TV Patrol’s Early Years – Key Success Factors

 

TV Patrol's 25 year logo. (Image from Wikipedia)

One of the most interesting media development I was fortunate to have monitored, studied and analyzed  was an early evening news program which anchored the rise of the then fledgling ABS-CBN to the number 1 position in the Philippine TV industry.  Here is my take of what made the program a success:

 

The Birth of TV Patrol

On March 2, 1987, TV Patrol first went on air.  It  was launched as an out-and-out tabloid-style newscast. From March 2 to July 3, 1987,  it was 30 minutes long and was expanded to 60-minutes in July 6 of the same year. It had less of the hard news and more of the entertainment, more of the  blood and guts. It featured anchors Noli de Castro, Mel Tiangco,Robert Arevalo (who was replaced a few months later by  Frankie Evangelista), and Angelique Lazo.

With animated use of colloquial Tagalog, a healthy dose of editorializing, and winning segments such as Pulso, Mission Expose, Lingkod Bayan, Pulis Report and Star News, the show appealed to the CDE sectors like no news show had ever had. There was also  a conscious effort to support the news with videos no matter how raw, bloody or graphic these videos maybe. Occasionally  there were live reports from the field, but mainly audio feeds betraying the newly-established network's lack of equipment.

 

Success Factors

What made the show successful?

A key success factor was a hungry and determined news team.  Whatever  the struggling network and the news department lack in resources, was more than made up by the ingenuity and the sheer determination of the whole team: top management, anchors,  reporters, cameramen, writers, and the other newsroom staff, to the extent of even using their own resources if only to come out with a good story every 6:00 o'clock on weekday evenings. 

Second, the program concept and design filled up a glaring gap in the news market. In a survey we conducted on the news audience, programs and personalities conducted during the first quarter of 1987, we identified six key attributes viewers anted in a news program:   Moreover, the qualifiers behind each of the attributes, revealed clear directions as to the contents of a newscast the audience would want to watch namely: 

  1. Credibility:  It is credible if it is not propaganda; if it reports on what is really happening in the country. It reports on crime, corruption, abuses of those in authority, problems not attended to by the government; reporters are in the scene of where the story happened.

  2. Clear delivery of news: Delivery is clear if it is in a dialect the viewer could understand (Tagalog) and if it is delivered in a clear, loud voice.

  3. Graphic Videos: They want video support for most of the stories aired during the newscasts and they want the video shots and interviews of those involved in the news. Moreover, they don't mind seeing the blood and the gore for as long as it is a true video of the crime that is being reported.

  4. Fights for me: Listens to my complaints and helps me bring it to the attention of higher authorities.I could go to them and they will help me with my problems as regards police, military and other government abuses

  5. Provide Public Service: Provides help when in case of calamities. Helps me get free medical services and medicines.

  6. Provides News About my Favorite Stars:  gives updates on what is happening with my favorite stars.

 

As to which newscasts on air has these attributes, the survey analysis revealed that there was a big gap between what the audience wants and what was aired by the TV networks. I was then the General Manager of Pulse Research Group — the research firm that conducted the the media survey, and upon reading the topline results  I remembered making a comment that it is high time for any of the TV networks to set up a mass-based TV newscast.  The leading newscasts then were in English. There were only a few stories about the stars and celebrities. And there was hardly any public service item on the story line-ups.

The main segments of TV Patrol filled the market gaps: Lingkod Bayan for public service; Star News for reports about the audience favorite stars and personalities;   Mission Expose featured abuses and shortcomings of government officials and more importantly gave the audiences a message that the program fights for them and helps them face up to abuses by those in power; and,  Pulso provides the newscasts editorial stand on the pressing issues of the day.  
 
Moreover, the use of Tagalog as a medium and the booming voice of the lead anchor  are ingredients that made for a clear delivery of the day's news. 
 
A third factor is that the other networks were weakened by changes in its top management and the departure of key personnel. Right after the EDSA revolution Channels 4, 9 and 13 were taken over by appointees of the revolutionary government.  Some of these appointees had  limited television experience.
 
There was also an exodus of GMA-7's top level  network managers towards ABS-CBN. This group was composed of  pre-Martial Law ABS-CBN employees who heeded the call of Mr Eugenio Lopez Jr and came back to help rebuild the station.  Among these are Freddie Garcia and his Sales and Marketing team, along with key engineers left GMA and joined ABS-CBN, bringing with them the years of network experience and the goodwill earned from years of relationship with advertisers, film suppliers and various on-air and off-air talents. It was Freddie Garcia Garcia who thought of the TV Patrol concept after the ABS-CBN's first attempt at an early evening newscast (Balita Ngayon, anchored by Robert Arevalo and Mel Tiangco) did not cause a stir in ratings and in revenues. 
 
 
Ratings Dominance

TV Patrol caught the industry by storm. It was embraced by the TV audiences so that every night, 60% to 70% of TV viewers were tuned in to the program. Nevertheless, the advertising community initially balked at putting their ads on the program because of its tabloid character. But the audience numbers was substantial enough to ignore and revenues eventually started to  come in. Eventually, TV Patrol became the first TV news program in Philippine TV that generated profits.

More important for the network, TV Patrol provided a substantial lead-in audience for the rest of the evening's programs. In id-1987 , when I examined the ebb and flow of various network programs, i observed this trend and bodly predicted to my then boss Rosie Chew, ABS-CBN will evntually lead the evening primetime ratings, overtaking the primetime leaders  IBC 13 and GMA 7.  Which was what happened in 1988.

 

25 Years Later

A lot has changed since then. TV Patrol now has 18 regional editions, and viewership spanning the globe. It now uses state of the art equipment and is making use of whatever modern technology that money can buy.  It has faced strong challenge by rival newscasts. In fact,  during some survey periods and in some broadcast areas it has yielded the top spot to competition.  Throughout its 25 years of being on air, it has undergone several changes: segments, logo,  anchors, time slots and even its behind the camera personnel.

I have joined the network in 1990 and have left them in 2005. I was not just a witness to the various changes that happened to the program; in some instances I recommended some of those major changes.  There is a lot of  behind the scenes stories that makes for a good blog post. In the meantime, let me congratulate the men and women behind the TV  Patrol, whether they are still with the network, are now with its competitors, or are working/relaxing outside of network life.

 

 

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Rodolfo Aquino, Bar Placer at 64

Here is an example of a senior citizen who proves that age is not an obstacle in passing, even being at the top 10 of the Philippine Bar Examinations.

At age 64, it is also his first take of the Bar exams. He took up undergraduate studies and earned his Bachelor degree in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines (UP)   in 1966 and a master’s degree in business administration from the same university in 1969.

He had wanted to take up law earlier but could not do so because of financial constraints. Instead, he got a scholarship for a master’s degree in operations research and statistics from RensselaerPolytechnic Institute in New York in 1977, and finished a doctoral degree on the  fields in 1979.

At 52 years old in Year 2000, he earned his master’s in economics, and in Year 2005 at age 57 he got a PhD in economics.  At age 64,  Rodolfo Q. Aquino took the bar exams and placed number 10 from among 6,200 examinees in November 2011.

He is a professor at UP’s College of Business Administration.   His  educational background and list of research works as published in the UP College of Business Administration’s page about him (  shows a picture of an overachiever.

But more than anything else, his story of inspiration for the millions of senior citizens in the country. Who is to say that age is a hindrance in earning higher level degrees?  He got his Master’s in Economics at age 52, and his PhD in economics at age 57. He  finished his law studies at age 62 or 63 and was among the first batch of law graduates from the Alabang campus of San Beda College.

He told reporters in a telephone interview that being a senior citizen has never been an obstacle to completing his law degree.  Indeed, for the sexagenarian Rodolfo Aquino, it is never too late to fulfill a life-long dream of becoming a lawyer so that instead of retiring next year, he plans to apply in one of the law firms of his Sigma Rho fraternity brothers  to gain experience.”

Congratulations  Atty. Rodolfo Aquino! You are an inspiration to millions of senior citizens in this country. A lot of latent dreams has been rekindled with what you achieved this year!

 

 

 

 

 

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The Internet and How it Improved the Way I do things

I am fortunate to have experienced how internet technology has evolved during my lifetime.  I saw how the computer evolved from the era of adding machines to Casio’s scientific calculators to HP’s programmable calculators to the Commodore computers and the room-sized Burroughs and the IBM mainframes to the earliest Apple and IBM desktops to today’s laptops, ipads, and smartphones.

On the communications front,  I experienced how it was to wait for years before getting a phone line and to bearing with party lines.  I also remember the time when pager was a necessity, when being on call means tuning in to your Motorola radio 24 hours a day.  But all these changed when the telecoms industry was deregulated,  and ushered and era when I can  choose between various competing land line providers.  And  of course, I can still recall how excited I was when I finally got my first cellphone unit!

I was introduced to the internet technology sometime in the early 90s via an intra-company email system.  The internet  technology has developed exponentially since then. I am fortunate to have used most of what it can offer to help make the way I do things a lot better and simpler

Indeed, a  lot of things has changed since my childhood days when the fastest form of communication is via the telegram or a public announcement (panawagan) via a public service program on radio.  Today, I have several options for communicating: SMS, voice calls, e-mail, chat, or via skype. All these on real time!

Aside from improving the way I communicate with friends and business associates, following is the full list of my personal and professional activities that the internet has helped made simpler and faster:

  1. Communicating: E-mail,  Yahoo Messenger, Chat, Skype
  2. Searching: Google, Bing, Yahoo and others…
  3. Social networking – Facebook, Myspace, Multiply, Twitter, LinkedIn
  4. Video and Images Watching – You Tube, Flickr
  5. Online Shopping and Group Buying – Amazon, Ebay, Sulit.com.ph, and other group buying sites
  6. Online Banking and Stock Trading
  7. Learning – Wikipedia
  8. Gaming.  Level Up, Tantra, World of Warcraft, Online poker games
  9. Blogging and Websites
  10. File and Music Sharing – Bit Torrent, Napster, Kazza, Limewire.

 

I have realized that internet technology used wisely is not something to be feared but harnessed. It has revolutionarized the way I communicate with others. And to those who are still familairizing themselves with the technology, here is a word of advice:  the internet is a web of information, where one can be led in many different directions. Seeking guidance from those already experienced in technology is a wise way to go.

Go and enjoy the benefits we can only dreamed of when we were younger!

 

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Today is Ash Wednesday

 

English: Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Ch...
Image via Wikipedia

Today is Ash Wednesday.

It is a holiday of obligation and the faithful are supposed to attend masses . During the masses, ashes are imposed on the foreheads of the faithful . The priest or the officiating layperson  marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes in the sign of the cross, which the worshipper traditionally retains until it wears off.  Made by burning palms, the ashes are a reminder of mortality, a symbol of spirituality and a sign of repentance at the start of the season leading to Easter.

As Wednesdays  is the first day of the Lenten Season,  a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, spiritual discipline and giving.

 

 

 

 

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That Lucky Pig

I got this from a Facebook status of a kababayan, Ella K, who also reposted this from her friend Susan’s FB status . I thought this is an appropriate material to lighten up this week’s Valentine’s Day celebration. Read on.

picture courtesy of Wikipedia

A pig’s orgasm lasts 30 minutes. (O.M.G.!!!)

A cockroach will live nine days without its head before it starves to death. (Creepy. I’m still not over the pig.)

The male praying mantis cannot copulate while its head is attached to its body. The female initiates sex by ripping the male’s head off. (Honey, I’m home . What the…?)

The flea can jump 350 times its body length. It’s like a human jumping the length of a football field. (30 minutes. Lucky pig! Can you imagine?)

The catfish has over 27,000 taste buds. (What could be so tasty on the bottom of a pond?)

Some lions mate over 50 times a day. (I still can’t believe that pig …quality over quantity.)

Butterflies taste with their feet. (Something I always wanted to know.)

Elephants are the only animals that cannot jump. (Okay, so that would be a good thing.)

A cat’s urine glows under a black light. (I wonder how much the government paid to figure that out.)

An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain. (I know some people like that.)

Starfish have no brains. (I know some people like that, too.) Polar bears are left-handed.(Talk about a southpaw.)

Humans and dolphins are the only species that have sex for pleasure. (What about that pig? Do the dolphins know about the pig?)

Now that you’ve smiled at least once, it’s your turn to spread these crazy facts. (and God, love that lucky pig)

 

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Impeachment Trial Impressions: Defense Wins Round 1 But Renato Corona is Badly Bruised

Round 1 Goes to the Defense, but CJ Corona is Badly Bruised

 

Fourteen days have passed and the prosecution team is about to wrap up the presentation for Article 2. Thus far, these are my impressions of the first 14 days of the impeachment proceedings:

  1.  I thought that Chief Justice Renato Corona would do a Merci; i.e. resign from his post and  spare himself from the embarrassment of whatever things the prosecution will throw at him during the trial. Renato Corona however has chosen to fight. In an interview  aired over TV Patrol last January 16, 2011, he declared that he will not resign as Chief Justice and only death can remove him from the Supreme Court. Such a bold statement can be interpreted either way: He is either “kapit tuko” or he is convinced he will be acquitted. Whatever it is, his statement over television suggests a long drawn trial.

 

  1. Except for one member of the court who never fails to perform headline grabbing antics when  attending the proceedings, I thought there is a conscious effort on the majority of the senator jurors  not to let the process be hampered by technicalities attendant to judicial proceedings.  I hope this will continue well into the rest of the impeachment trials.  The worst thing that can happen is for technicalities to prevent the truth to come out.  I believe that a decision that is reflective of the truth will surely get the support of the people. But a decision that bars the exposition of the truth using legal technicalities will be rejected by the people and my even result to some form of direct action. (Remember the second envelop and Edsa 2?)

 

The Impeachment Trial on the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 16, 2012
  1. This is a trial to show that Renato Corona is not fit to become Chief Justice.  Specifically it is not about the commission of high crimes” but about “betrayal of the public trust” and “culpable violation of the Constitution.”   For the first fourteen days, the trial was progressing  like a criminal proceeding. This could be a mistake by the prosecution resulting in the arguments being focused on evidence akin to a criminal proceeding, not about fitness in office of the Chief Justice.  Result: the Defense is having a field day in Court.

 

  1. The impeachment trial is a showcase of the best lawyers this country has.  I wonder how expensive these lawyers are.  And if indeed they are offering their services for free, are there strings attached to these free services?

 

  1. The defense team may have won this round on technicalities but their client has been badly cruised and his reputation badly tarnished.   No matter how brilliant and experienced the defense counsels are, the prosecution team was able to paint a Chief Justice who has not been that honest with his SALNs, who has bought penthouses at a great discount and who has tried to avoid paying the correct taxes on his real estate transactions and other incomes.

 

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