GMA Network, Inc. launched Monday night free-to-air news and public affairs channel GMA News TV, going ahead of TV5 which is planning to launch its own news and sports channel.
Felipe L. Gozon, GMA Network chairman and chief executive officer, told reporters the news channel is an effort to stop losses from lifestyle and entertainment channel QTV on Channel 11.
“This is the first free-to-air news and public affairs channel on television which is just on time [amid] the growing demand of the Filipinos for relevant and credible news reportage,” he said. “QTV 11 posted more than P100 million in loss last year. At the most, the company lost around P200 million to P300 million from operating QTV 11. We think that we are strong in news and public affairs so we are focusing on it now,” he added.
Mr. Gozon also said the network would increase advertising rates by February or March. Ten advertisers “with big-volume accounts” have signed up in December last year, he said.
“The increase is on top of the jump on advertising rates we had implemented last year. The new advertising rates will be effective on February or March this year,” he said.
“Everybody is upbeat. Advertising is upbeat because businesses are upbeat,” he added.
Mr. Gozon said no advertisements have been booked yet on GMA News TV, which will take the place of QTV on Channel 11 starting Feb. 28.
“Relative to QTV 11 and other channels, GMA News TV will have a more serious programming line-up. There is news every hour, on the hour,” he said.
Mr. Gozon said planning for the new channel format started July last year. GMA Network has doubled the number of its news teams, but there was “no major investment involved.”
“We expect the channel to bring in profits next year,” he said.
Rival ABS-CBN Corp. operates the ABS-CBN News Channel and Teleradyo on cable. Manuel V. Pangilinan-led TV5 earlier announced it would launch this month Aksyon TV on Channel 41 as the network’s free-to-air news and sports channel.
TV5 officials could not be reached for comment. Last month, the network broke ground at its future headquarters in Mandaluyong.
Mediaquest Holdings, Inc., a unit of the Beneficial Trust Fund of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., owns Nation Broadcasting Corp., a network of radio stations, and ABC Development Corp. which operates TV5.
Mediaquest Holdings has a minority stake in BusinessWorld. -- Aura Marie P. Dagcutan