TV5 EVP and COO Roberto "Bobby" Barreiro described the province of Cebu as an "interesting market," given its large population and vibrant local economy.
"Cebu is definitely very, very important for us not only in terms of expansion and reach, but more in terms of content. The Cebu market has always been rich in content. Sa amin, this is going to be an important hub and marami kaming planong gawin dito," Barreiro told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) last June 25 in an interview at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu.
The Kapatid network rolled out its expansion program during the weekend with a series of promotional activities designed to announce the station's presence not just in the Cebu, but in the entire Visayas Region.
Barreiro stressed that the network's plan is to produce more local TV and radio programs dedicated to the Visayan market— a testament to the region's unique market dynamics independent of Manila.
"We believe that we should be addressing the likes and wants of our audiences, and definitely in Cebu, they really want more local content. So yun ang gusto naming puntahan," the network executive said.
PUBLIC SERVICE. Toher network's top priority is to solidify its News and Public Affairs team to meet the demand of the Cebuano public.
Interestingly, radio remains an important medium in Cebu when it comes to delivering information, news, entertainment, and public service, and TV5 aims to take full advantage of that fact by bolstering its radio content.
During the press presentation, TV5 introduced homegrown anchors Atty. Ruphil Bañoc and Darlanne Sino Cruz as the faces of its first regional news program, Aksyon Bisaya.
Manila-based anchors and broadcasters like Paolo Bediones, hard-hitting brothers Erwin and Raffy Tulfo, Martin Andanar, Cheryl Cosim, and Amelyn Veloso welcomed Atty. Bañoc and Cruz to TV5's growing family.
The news team also conducted a public service event in the afternoon at Cebu's E-Mall, where Paolo, Cheryl, Erwin, and the others, participated in a medical mission, disaster preparedness, survival training, and legal counseling.
"It's our way of preparing the audience for any eventuality. As Erwin [Tulfo] mentioned a while ago, the crew, the staff, the anchors—we all undergo training, and this is something that we take very seriously," said Paolo.
"In any coverage, kadalasan ang nauuna is the press, the media. Tama nga naman, sino ang unang tutulong kundi tayo? Now, of course, kung nandun na yung rescuers huwag ka nang makialam.
"There's been a lot of controversy over that particular mindset, and I guess this is where the paradigm shift is involved or needed. Anong mauuna — ang pagiging tao o pagiging mamamahayag?
"Siyempre kung naghihingalo yung tao and walang dumarating na tulong, responsibilidad [natin] bilang tao ang tumulong, first and foremost. So yun ang nakikita nating logic and ethic behind that."
BOUNCING BACK. The regional launch, of course, would not be complete without a live show courtesy of TV5's primetime variety-game show Wil Time Bigtime, which was held at Cebu City's South Road Project, South Reclamation Area.
TV5 representatives and authorities monitoring the live event estimated the crowd who came to watch Willie Revillame's show at 120,000.
Barreiro said management is pleased with the progress and performance of Wil Time Bigtime since it was launched by the network last May 14. (CLICK HERE to read related article.)
Wil Time Bigtime was formerly Willing Willie—which was cancelled by TV5 management in April after it was alleged that Willie and the program violated in public, the rights of a 6-year-old male contestant. (CLICK HERE to read related article.)
The controversy created a stir and it forced advertisers to pull out from the program, prompting management to suspend the show altogether to ease escalating tension.
Since it resumed airing, Barreiro happily reported that the program is doing well and slowly regaining its old form.
"It's doing very well," smiled Barreiro.
"Nakaka-recover na siya, the advertisers are slowly coming back, and the ratings are also starting to [pick up]. We're very excited about the games. Maganda yung mga games, maganda yung reception, the lines are back—pumipila na ulit yung mga tao.
"We're happy, we're very pleased with how it's going, and pinapaganda pa rin namin—pinaghuhusayan pa rin para lalong tumaas ang ratings."
Barreiro, who said the incident has made them "wiser and better," stressed that the experience tested the network's resiliency to hurdle obstacles.
"Well, matagal na kami sa industriya, and maraming beses na kaming dumaan sa mga problema. With the experience, ang challenge talaga niya is how to bounce back 'pag meron konting paghihirap," said Barreiro, who served as executive for a rival network a couple of years ago.
"'Pag merong ganito [the motivation is], 'How do you bounce back? How do you recover? How do you learn from it? And how do you improve?'—lagi kaming ganun."
He continued, "You will never be able to please everybody. You will have lovers and haters, and we respect their opinion on the program.
"Meron talagang ganun, merong ayaw sa ganitong talent and merong gusto si ganun. That's the way we operate, and that's the world that we live in. We just have to deal with it."
STEPPING ON THE GAS. The Visayas expansion is part of TV5's goal to assert its presence and cover 95 percent of the country.
Prior to Cebu, the network had solidified its presence in Central Luzon (CLICK HERE to read related article) and Mindanao (CLICK HERE to read related article) in two separate launches held on December 2010 and February 2011, respectively.
How is TV5 faring in the mentioned regions?
"Very good! Every time we move into a market, like for example, in Dagupan, when we aired Willing Willie there, immediately nag-shoot up talaga yung ratings," Barreiro said.
"Kasi ang basic problem noon is signal. So we fix the signal—siyempre kahit anong ganda nung programa kung hindi nila makita, bale wala din—as soon as ma-fix mo yung signal, ayun naayos na."
Management is also gearing up to establish TV5 outside the Philippines, starting in the Middle East next month, before heading to Asia Pacific, and then North America.
The network executive acknowledged that they are working overtime to reach their target, which means beefing up all possible resources, particularly manpower.
"That's why we have to get more people on board kasi ang bilis. Dun sa entertainment sa TV5 main pa lang, alam mo naman naghahabulan kami ng ABS-CBN and GMA-7.
"So we're working very hard. Aside from that, we have Aksyon TV and another channel for sports.
"So in that sense, yes, we're very, very aggressive on all fronts. But we think that's the only way to catch up. If you don't work twice, or thrice, or ten times as hard as the others, then we will never be able to catch up—so talagang puspusan."
Speaking of sports, management has recently entered into a block-time agreement with IBC-13, making said channel an avenue for TV5 to air sports-related programs.
"We intend to use that as a sports platform for now. Kasi yung sports, gusto naming pasukin in a big way.
Everywhere else in the world, sports is big, but here in the Philippines it's not as big. Ang tingin namin dun, ang tingin ni MVP [Manny V. Pangilinan, network owner] is that, for us to be a healthier and a more competitive country, we need to be into sports.
'Yung ibang mga bansa 'di ba talagang big time sa kanila ang sports? Dito, parang hindi tayo involved, kaya matataba kami," joked Barreiro.
The network has yet to achieve its 95-percent target. But management is confident they'll have the entire country covered in the coming months.
"You'd be able to do up to mga 80 percent easily. Tapos yung iba, hiwa-hiwalay na. So mas mabagal ang growth after that. So, we're pretty close to it and after [establishing our presence] in the major markets like Cebu and Davao, malapit na kami," Barreiro said not without optimism.