MANILA, Philippines – “Set aside ‘yung politika (politics),” ALLTV host Willie Revillame pleaded in a 15-minute spiel uploaded on the Wowowin YouTube channel on February 5, in a play for sympathy regarding the station’s three flagship ALLTV shows supposedly being suspended for poor ratings – variety show Wowowin, talk show Toni with Toni Gonzaga, and another talk show Mhies On a Mission (M.O.M.S.) with Mariel Rodriguez, Ruffa Gutierrez, and Ciara Sotto.
On the record, Revillame said that he hasn’t received word from management that Wowowin will be closing, and insists that the construction of the show’s studio is still continuing. He also said that Mhies On A Mission is on “pause,” but did not mention Gonzaga’s Toni.
ALLTV soft-launched in September 2022, and according to their official website, airs on Channel 2 on free TV, Channel 16 on free digital TV, Channel 35 on Sky and Cignal, Channel 32 on G Sat, Channel 23 on Cable Link, and Channel 2 as well on 18 other regional cable services.
The station said then that they were targeting a grand launch in February 2023, but lacking viewership and the sponsors that come with an audience, the station, has instead seemingly suspended their three main offerings. Aside from these three, the station rebroadcasts CNN Philippines’ daily newscast and some drama shows from ABS-CBN. Pro-Marcos broadcaster Anthony Taberna is also under contract with ALLTV.
ALLTV is under the company Advanced Media Broadcasting System (AMBS), headed by its president, Maribeth Tolentino, who in a Philstar.com interview in 2022 said that they want to “make people happy” with a network that “reaches the most Filipinos” because they have the “widest frequency” – as directed by its owner Manny Villar.
Revillame also serves an influential role in the station. Tolentino, in an interview with PEP.ph, described the TV veteran’s role: “Consultant namin siya. How to go about this venture, siya ang unang nag-a-advise sa amin. So, ‘di ba, lahat ng negosyo, may consultant? So, saan ba siya magko-consult para sa negosyong ito? Sa programa, sa artista. Yun ang role sa amin ni Willie.”
(He’s our consultant. How to go about this venture, he’s the first one to advise us. So, don’t all businesses have a consultant? On what aspects do we consult him? On programs, on artists. That’s Willie’s role.)
Forgetting recent history
Imploring his audience to set politics aside, Revillame forgets that ALLTV parent company AMBS’ acquisition of ABS-CBN’s frequencies had been deeply political, with the latter’s franchise renewal denied out of the former president Rodrigo Duterte’s vengeful streak and desire to acquire more power, if not directly for his family, but for his political network.
Revillame reminds us in his spiel how he had been extremely trusting of the former president, contacting Senator Bong Go to attempt to provide Duterte P50 million in funds that could be used to help those affected by the pandemic. (According to Revillame, Go is said to have rejected the offer, saying that it wasn’t good for presidents to receive money from anyone.)
Fifty million isn’t chump change, but Revillame forgets the 11,000 employees who found themselves under the added pressure of having their jobs in jeopardy in the middle of the pandemic, with ABS-CBN’s shutdown in May 2020. In August 2020, ABS-CBN would cut 4,000 jobs. If all of these workers were earning minimum wage, just to illustrate, that’s about P44 million in lost monthly wages.
That Revillame had been caught on camera chuckling, in an old episode segment with Harry Roque, as to the fate of ABS-CBN didn’t help his cause. Revillame would address that specific clip though on February 9, explaining that the short clip didn’t completely show what he would say later on in the same segment, as reported by Inquirer: “Malaki ang utang na loob ko sa istasyon na ‘yon dahil do’n ako nagsimula, do’n ako nakilala, nasa puso ko pa rin ‘yan.” (I am indebted to that network because I started and became known there; they still have a place in my heart.)
Revillame comforts himself at the start of his spiel. “Basta hindi ka nagnanakaw. Basta hindi ka involved sa mga illegal, okay na ‘yun.” (As long as you’re not a thief. As long as you’re not involved with anything illegal, you’re okay.) Yet the host had somehow allied himself with the Marcoses in the last elections, whose matriarch Imelda, among other Marcos cases, was found guilty of seven counts of graft in 2018.
Revillame is quick to remind people of how much he gives out every month on Wowowin, all the while saying he’s not one that is nagbubuhat ng sariling bangko (tooting one’s own horn). “P200,000 a day.” “P5 million a month,” he says. A few hundred every year will get a taste of that money, and will certainly help them get by. But – and this is a can of worms for another day – Revillame should also express some awareness that he and his show also profits from a situation wherein people desperately need to be in a show for a one-in-a-thousand shot at winning money.
Revillame pleads to set aside politics, for it is convenient now, and perhaps strategic. What he appears to want is to court sympathy, and put the attention on him and shield the Villars – whose patriarch Manny he credits for helping him secure his Wil Tower building – from the humiliation of a present failure.
Revillame on Tuesday, February 7, again on his show, and as reported by PEP.PH, further courted attention, in a diatribe against critics: “I-vlog niyo ako bukas! Pagtulung-tulungan niyo ako, hindi ako natatakot! Yun ang gusto niyo? Okay lang, sige! Tirahin niyo ako araw-araw, minu-minuto, I don’t care! Kayo ang may utang na loob sa akin! Hindi ako! Tandaan niyo yan sa buhay niyo!”
(Vlog about me tomorrow. Gang up on me. I’m not scared. That’s what you want? That’s fine. Take a swipe at me everyday, I don’t care. You’re the ones who owe me, remember that.)
One’s just deserts
Revillame is right that a new business should be given a chance, and failure shouldn’t equate to humiliation. But as Revillame should know, ALLTV, with its colorful history, isn’t just any new business. More than a TV station, ALLTV represents, in some parts, Duterte in all his petty tyrannical madness, and political allies conniving to consolidate more power. The former president himself had admitted to using his presidential powers to stop the renewal. He once said, “Kaya tinira ko talaga [ang ABS-CBN] (That’s why I really targeted them).” “I used the presidential powers to tell Congress that you are dealing with scoundrels and if you continue to kowtow with them, kawawa ang Pilipino (Filipinos should be pitied).”
The reaction of people to ALLTV’s failures stems from this history, and show hosts Revillame and Toni Gonzaga and their political affiliations – the former with Duterte and the latter with Marcos. His hypocrisy is to tell people that ABS-CBN is in his heart, while fervently supporting a political figure who had clearly targeted the station. His hyprocrisy is to attempt to deny the people some joy in seeing the bully and his cohorts experience a bit of turbulence.
People are all too aware of ALLTV’s history, and its heavy baggage. And to begin with, even stations with decidedly less political history such as TV5 have had much trouble succeeding, facing problems of reach or producing shows that attract as big an audience as the two old stalwarts, ABS-CBN and GMA. – Rappler.com
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