"It's really a Filipino company.  We're confident that we're not doing anything illegal," says Jasper Evangelista, senior vice president for brand management of TV5.


On December 3, television network GMA-7 filed a suit against the newly launched network TV5. The former complained the "unconstitutionality" of having Malaysian investors being involved in the "programming content and airtime sales" of TV5. (Click here to read related article.)


Formerly known as ABC-5, the network now offers 24/7 proramming and operates a brand new transmitter. Its management explained that ABC-5 had entered into a "major blocktime agreement" with MPB Primedia Inc., which is a Philippine corporation backed by Media Prima Berhad of Malaysia.


To further explain this, TV5 CEO Christopher Sy told the media during the network's press launch in August, "ABC-5 is still owned by Tonyboy Cojuanco. Prime Media has simply entered into a blocktime agreement but we do not have equity in this station."


The entertainment media was able to get an update about this said case at TV5's Live Caravan last Saturday, January 3, at the CCP Complex in Pasay City. 


In an interview with TV5's SVP for brand management Jasper Evangelista and TV5's media relations head Pat Marcelo-Magbanua, both said that the said complaint has already reached their lawyers, although there was no official statement released yet by the network.


Despite this, Mr. Evangelista was confident that their network did nothing illegal when TV5 was launched. He said, "If you go to TV5, it's a Filipino company—brand management, programming, and marketing as well. Everybody is Filipino."


To clear the rumors about the participation of the Malaysian company in TV5's operation, Ms. Magbanua explained, "We're actually not [a conglomerate of Prima Berhad]. 'Yon din ang misnomer ng mga PRs [press releases], kasi sometimes they put lang words, e, of what they understand.


"Technically, we have Malaysian investors, parang any company naman in the country can have investors. That's what they have in our company, they invested.  But in terms of management, that's still us [Filipino]—we're self-registered, we're Filipino-run, 'yong ganun. Pero, we must admit that we have the money [from Malaysian investors], but definitely the decisions are made by us."


INSPIRED BY THE REACTION. The network took GMA-7's reaction as a challenge to give something new to the audience.


"We recognized this year is gonna be challenging, of course, magre-react na ang mga players," said Mr. Evangelista.  They have been reacting naman.  Ako, expect that, I look forward to that challenge.  As a station, our competitors, they're there to keep us on our toes and be really innovative with our content."


Evangelista added that instead of thinking about the two major networks as the competitors, they treat them as media that could teach them something new about the industry.


"Of course, [Channel] 2 and 7, our competitors, are there, we're learning from them.  Of course, 2 and 7, sila na ang nag-establish ng TV landscape.  You know, kudos to them because they're now moving dynasty, di ba? Kami naman, we're learning, of course, from their success and also from their failure.  That's where TV5 strategy emanates from—learning from competitors, learning how to do things better as much as possible, you know, giving televiewers something new on their tables. So, we welcome the competition actually."


ALTERNATIVE OFFERINGS. In less than six months since it was launched, TV5 has already reached the third spot in the ratings game. 


"Everybody was inspired that we ended at that high," commented Mr. Evangelista. "When we launched, we were very conservative also. We don't want to oversee naman the market. The objective of the launching of TV5 is be a solid number three."


He continued, "If you think, there's only just two, practically ha, then, everybody falls behind them naman talaga. So, at least, have another option for viewers kasi 2 and 7 are really like [in a close fight]. They look like same programming, di ba? So, we're going in there, shaking the landscape, 'Shake Mo TV Mo,' just to provide variety lang for the viewers and make sure that there there's something else out there for them."


INNOVATIONS IN PROGRAMMING. To follow their aim to provide an alternative to Pinoy viewers, Mr. Evangelista said that they follow a certain mantra. 


"The whole mantra of TV5 is really to innovate," he said. "We want to throw in new stuff in there, give them variety. Wala din naman kaming sinasabi na we're gonna make this the whole year kasi it depends. We also take the barometer of what the viewers want. After a while, if this show finishes, we're changing to something new.


"At the same time, may mga key pillar brands nga, so hindi naman parang madyo-jolt ang viewers na pabago-bago ng time ang shows. We're balancing that. It's a very thin line, we want to inject more innovations. Our role in the industry is throw in more shows, more programs, new formats and the like."


Does this mean they staying away from making teledramas, which are very common in the two major networks?


Mr. Evangelista answered indirectly, "If you notice our programming, one of the key things that we're doing is pick our battles. Again, we recognize that 2 and 7 are the big ones, we don't want to engage them at their strength. That's a basic marketing strategy naman, e. So, you pick your battles first, try to get some successes in some key areas first."


Another aspect raised during the interview was having talents, who were directly identified with TV5. Right now, most of the celebrities seen in their networks came from ABS-CBN. Don't they have plans to train their own talents?


Mr. Evangelista replied, "We have a plan that's also happening, even the Lipgloss stars, even the young ones. Of course, we're gonna start with that engine of talents and dapat meron din kaming mga landmark artista rin at the same time."


Among the artists that are strongly identified with TV5 are, according to Mr. Evangelista, "Lucy Torres is like the Reyna of TV5, since ABC5 pa. Ryan Agoncillo is being identified with TV5, his Talentadong Pinoy is doing really well."


Since there are no definite plans yet about having their own celebrities, TV5 is open to showbiz personalities who want to work in their network.


"We're an open shop, regardless if you're from [channel] 2 or [channel] 7, we don't differentiate. We don't discriminate if you wanna work with us," stated Mr. Evangelista. "Unfortunately, there's a regulation that's happening on 7's side. [Channel] 2 has really been very welcoming in sharing their talents with us. Para sa ikagaganda rin naman ng industriya din 'yon. It's a win-win thing. We give their stars exposure and anytime we need we get back to them."


As for 2009, Mr. Evangelisa said that TV5 will have "[a] jampacked program for the year. We're gonna raise the bar in our programming as well."

Click HERE to learn more about TV5's LIVE Caravan.