- August 18, 8:29 p.m.: Added confirmed coverage times from Gab
- August 16, 10:47 p.m.: The 2019 SEA Games’ hosting in the Philippines will push through.
[Dedicated to Gab Ferreras, Kevin Estrada, Ivan Saldajeno of Dugout Philippines and the fans of Philippines Football League]
ALTHOUGH few sports began their competition this week, this Saturday will mark the opening ceremony of the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on People’s Television (PTV), after 10 years, putting back the glory days as the Philippine sportscasting authority.
However, the sporting community is very wary of their solo return.
What’s so alarming and why we should be? It may not be myriads to reason out the concerns but let’s jump in.
Six (6) Potential Threats on PTV’s Return
- Presidential priority. This is the primarily important reason why our sporting community is alarmed for the channel’s return. Whenever a sporting competition is underway, President Rodrigo Duterte’s late, unexpected, off-the-cuff and lengthening speaking engagements can happen and for PTV, their long-time, uncodified and practiced “President first” doctrine. Sports fans – regardless of political affiliation – will not be satisfied with the interruption on the screens but the non-sporting ka-DDS are increasingly invading on the social media.
- Timeslot availability. On weekdays, PTV’s available time to cover their competitions is usually occupied by the current home shopping block — from 12:00-1:00 p.m. (because of nearly mandatory 11:00 a.m. Malacanang press conference), 2:00-5:00 p.m. and 7:00-9:00 p.m. On weekends, they are sadly limited and usually refuse to yield due to committed daytime block timer shows before 4:00 p.m. It is certainly not enough to cover most of our sports and some events will be condensed into a daily highlights show. The confirmed TV coverage will start from 7 to 9 p.m. & 10 to 12 a.m. from opening to closing every day as they promise to provide livestream of events in their official YouTube channel.
- Sporting priorities. In the current commercial sportscasting sphere, men’s basketball and women’s volleyball are priorities than those in football and weightlifting. It might happen to those in Channel 4, which might receive backlash for favoritism and for joining their bandwagon. Nonetheless, the constraints will hinder PTV’s all-out coverage to Team Philippines’ 498 athletes competing in 37 sports (as we do not form a cricket team).
- No mercy for flexibility. Except for presidential engagements, PTV showed no mercy to adjust their schedule for sports. Do you know what happened to the inaugural Philippines Football League season lately? Two out of 15 did not complete due to inclement weather — delaying the games mid-play — and the broadcast ended exactly at 6:00 p.m. without apologies and concessions from the network. Plus, if ABS-CBN has an unresolved 5:00 p.m. problem every weekday (i.e. a drama series or a game show vs. Regional TV Patrol), PTV has an unavoidable 9:00 p.m. problem every day (i.e. PCSO Lotto Draw). Unless the PCSO has issued an early closing of Lotto outlets (which they will never happen at the last minute), there is, unfortunately, no choice but to skip 15 minutes on both ceremonies that might be substantial.
- Potential problems in curating. Despite a handful of sports anchors and a primer series, some of them might not really know what happened in the ceremony, who will bear the flag for other countries or who the competitors are (aside from our very own). This is unlike the commercial giants, TV5 and ABS-CBN that were given some background briefing beforehand as part of their initial or continuing talent development for their respective sports divisions.
- Adverse financial and audience feedback. The last but not the least, the aftereffect of coverage will determine the reputation both in terms not only to finance but also on audience’s reception. The consensus may or may not be given consideration for future relations of their sportscasting. Last June, Mike Limpag’s sports column Fair Play in Sun Star Cebu reported that Channel 4 gets paid between P400,000 and P1 million for every live telecast of the PFL, depending on the location. Given 15 live broadcasts for the first two months of the league before it stopped, it should receive between P 6-15 million. Yet, was it all worth it if some were incompletely satisfied due to the aforementioned reasons, even if there are no sponsors yet? If it holds true, then what more to cover the regional biennial event that is worth ten times more?
As summed up in an ICT jargon, Vasra’s solo plan would lead to the single point of failure (SPOF).
Not to worry though, TV5 will assist them just like back in 2005 in Manila and 2007 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, but only to men’s basketball. Should they help carrying the brunt, it will be much of a challenge if a participating competition happened during their PBA time where the latter usually refuses to yield because of priority status.
Meanwhile, IBC 13, the beleaguered and unlucky network, would have been very useful to shoulder the older sister’s coverage from being an excessively slack before going back to cover the same-day taped-delayed Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Season 2 but their reception in Old Balara is currently a challenge.
For re-starters, PCO Secretary Martin Andanar should ask his boss to refrain from holding any speaking engagements on the evening of the 19th and of the 30th, so as not to interrupt – at least – both ceremonies of these games.
That said, Visayas Avenue’s solitary and risky homecoming would have mark a warning for our country on the next hosting in 2019. Commercial broadcasters, take note.
From initial withdrawal intention to more worry, warier
Speaking of the hosting, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) initially addressed to the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) that they considered withdrawing support to host the next SEA Games due to the situation in Marawi City but the POC keep on insisting to go with the show.
Would the intention have eventually materialized, in the closing ceremony of the current biennial event, it would be a big problem for the organizers because they need to submit our presentation and our logo for the next sporting edition. The arduous efforts of our local advertising industry would have put to waste. Consequently, we would have to wait, at latest, in 2027, if the 2021-25 editions (to be hosted in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, respectively) are locked in for the games unless they yield.
While it may be reasonable under the primary circumstances (i.e. rehabilitation), they would have never seen some other hidden opportunities that may be missed.
While the proposed venues and its supporting infrastructures are yet to be built as part of the debt-driven Build, Build, Build plan, existing potential facilities such as the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan would be rendered useless and rising upkeep costs would be a challenge.
Other essentials of hosting the SEA Games, such as broadcasting and the politics, might be troublesome. We might not see ABS-CBN again if the radio-television franchise expires in 2020 and a takeover might ensue. We might also see the comeback of former Senator Bongbong Marcos in seeking the Presidency.
The list of worries would’ve happened and for the sitting President, he would almost personally regret missing the chance to host and to open the biennial regional multi-sport meet.
“Opportunities will be lost in a blink of an eye but regrets will last forever.” ~Anonymous adapted
Logo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / SEA Games Federation