Phillippine TV news is anything unlike you find in other East Asia countries. And in part this is due to the success of ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol.
Launched in 1987 after ABS-CBN returned to the air after the overthrow of the Marcos regime (People Power Revolution), TV Patrol was anything unlike what was seen beforehand on Philippine TV news. Before the arrival of TV Patrol, newscasts had a “broadsheet” style where anchors served as strict newsreaders and coverage focused more on world affairs. Newscasts could be spoken on English or Tagalog, or even interchangeably (often known popularly as Taglish).
TV Patrol, however, distinguished itself initially from its competitors (including ABS-CBN’s fellow news programmes at the time, the Filipino-spoken Balita Ngayon, and the English-spoken The World Tonight). Unlike these newscasts, TV Patrol modelled itself on DZMM’s tabloid news show, Radyo Patrol, and the then-booming industry of Tagalog-written tabloid newspapers, led by the Pilipino Star Ngayon. As a result, coverage focused on crime news and sensationalistic reporting (including broadcasting graphic imagery with little to no censorship), as well as entertainment news (including pioneering the use of a young, attractive actress to deliver these stories), news-you-can-use features for the community, and human-interest stories. The show also pioneered the use of telephone surveys on daily hot topics.
From the outset, and also marking distance from its competitors, the show used vernacular Tagalog during the entire broadcast, and anchors were allowed to, in a deliberately dramatic and aggressive tone of voice, comment and editorialise on stories, and also do happy talk segments. This also became a factor for the show’s high audiences, with viewers particularly welcoming the chemistry between original anchors, “Kabayan” Noli de Castro, Mel Tiangco and Robert Arevalo. The newscasts also became a bridge to the community, particularly when natural disasters affect the country, initially by covering the situation wall-to-wall with live on-site reporting, and followed with “public service” reporting which include anchors helping out on the recovery situation.
The programme and its populist agenda quickly became a success in the ratings, with the show quickly going number one almost from the outset; however, that success was not without its criticism: media critics criticised its dependence on its tabloid format and reporting, plus the deliberate showing of graphic imagery; in 1989, Filipino poet and literary critic Virgilio S. Almario pointed out that the use of vernacular Tagalog led to the misuse of “siyokoy” words, formed through the mix of English terms and misunderstanding of Spanish grammar (vernacular Tagalog often relies on loaned English and Spanish words), although he celebrated the broadcaster’s brave decision to use Filipino for the newscast in a time many of the networks were using stilted English and Tagalog for its content.
The success of TV Patrol led to other channels copying the format: in 1995, arch-rival GMA Network launched a late night newscast, Saksi (Witness), which imitated the tabloid TV Patrol format in a very watered-down style; it was soon followed by replacing the evening news broadcast with another TV Patrol imitation, 24 Oras, from 2004; both featuring former anchor Mel Tiangco (who transferred to GMA after a controversy surrounding her appearance in a TV commercial for a washing powder in violation of her ABS-CBN contract).
24 Oras was a more direct imitation of TV Patrol, both in its style and in its formatting, down to the emphasis on crime, controversial issues and gossip (even having a scantily clad presenter to lead the entertainment segment). The network even hired Neocolours’ Jimmy Antiporda to compose an aggressive theme music (the cut heard in the previous post) in the style of his high-energy, fast-paced remixes of the TV Patrol theme, Frank Gari’s Alllegro. ABS-CBN’s reaction was almost immediate: now suffering the appearance of a direct imitation, TV Patrol made sweeping changes later in 2004: dropping De Castro’s successor Korina Sanchez in favour of a three anchor team of holdover Julius Babao and newcomers Karen Davila and Ted Failon, both rising stars at the network; additionally, a small name change was made to TV Patrol World, reflecting its global broadcast on the network’s international service TFC (The Filipino Channel).
Soon, a third TV channel joined in the tabloid gang: TV5, just bought by former monopolist PLDT, wanted to revive the fortunes of the struggling network and do away with the alternative programming schedule (which had become a synonym of the network since its revival in 1992) in favor of a broad audience (or “masa”) remit.
This led to the launch, in April 2010, of a new line-up directly taking on ABS-CBN and GMA, including a new newscast, Aksyon, which also directly imitated TV Patrol, but in a much more aggressive way, focusing more on “public service” issues (including a midday show which was completely centered on spot live shots with audience complaints on the scene), the implementation of new technological advancements and a focus on community reporting, including the appearance of sign language interpreters during the newscasts, a groundbreaking situation at the time. Therefore, ABS-CBN reacted by rebranding TV Patrol, dropping the “World” from its name and bringing back Noli de Castro and Korina Sanchez as presenters.
During the process of implementing Akyson, TV5 hired long-tenured ABS-CBN investigative journalist Luchi Cruz-Valdes to head the newly named news division, News5. Under Cruz-Valdes and PLDT’s support, Akyson expanded to have a 24/7 news and sports channel (with emphasis on visual radio), AkysonTV, after signing an operating agreement with the Nation Broadcasting Corporation for its TV and FM services in the Metro Manila region, whilst also leasing prime time slots on government-owned IBC 13 to air sports content the network had rights (under the AKTV moniker); it was cancelled in May 2013 due to low ratings, high leasing costs and impeding rumors of the IBC network being fully privatized by the Aquino III Government (which eventually did not succeed).
By 2014, Akyson was airing four editions (morning, noon, evening and late night), and was airing its main edition 7 days a week; however, a deal between TV5/PLDT and ESPN signed in 2017 led to the news service downing tools, with Akyson being reduced to two weekday editions and most of its news resources being transferred to its own cable network Bloomberg TV Philippines; with that move on board, this same network was rebranded One News in 2018.
Akyson abruptly ended during the COVID-19 pandemic, resorting to sister cable networks One News and One PH during the crisis. The show never returned, as TV5 and the PLDT cable networks (operating under the One and Cignal TV banners) began sharing production resources during that time, and, in October, a new newscast, Frontline Pilipinas, went on air, with a middle-market format mixing the tabloid format (heavily watered-down) with increased reporting of political and world news, plus religious affairs and expanded special reports, interviews and sports coverage (particularly as TV5 now has nearly exclusive coverage of NBA and Phillippine basketball).
As for TV Patrol, the show watered the forced closure of ABS-CBN due to the licence revocation order by the National Telecommunications Commission in May 2020. The show was quickly moved to the ABS-CBN News Channel whilst continued simulcasting on the group’s satellite channel TFC. When the Kapamilya Channel (a cable channel which took over most of ABS-CBN’s schedule) launched in June 15, it was expected to also air TV Patrol, although the move was delayed due to its high audience on social media and on ANC; it would eventually be launched on the network on July 27, whilst also expanding its live streaming to encompass a global audience thanks to Kapamilya Online Live, a global streaming channel available in two feeds (a service focusing entirely on original ABS-CBN productions, available in the Phillipines, most of Asia, and EMEA; an a feed currently dedicated to the Filipino diaspora in the Americas, mixing many of the contemporary original productions available on the “domestic” feed, with selected content from TFC, plus programming from their own cable channels, including classic shows).