The first free-to-air news channel on VHF TV promised to revolutionize news viewing, and while GMA News and Public Affairs is the undisputed leader in Philippine news, GMA News TV has a lot to learn from international news channels.
Set design. GMA News TV should take a cue from international news organizations like CNN, Al-Jazeera and BBC. Why not use the news department as a backdrop for some of the news programs and hourly newsbits? All items on the studio must find use and not merely serve as a décor.
Lower-third and over-the-shoulder graphics. Most of GMA News TV lower-third and over-the-shoulder graphics are a bit amateurish. There are too many colors; the graphics look like crayon-themed. Minimalist look is in. This is how CNN and BBC do their lower thirds. Use colors that complement each other or are monochromatic. Increase font sizes of headlines and decrease the font size of the news ticker. Better to use the down-style instead of all caps for headlines. Finally, flush left looks more professional than center-justified text.
Programming. Most of GMA News TV is documentaries. But news programs aren’t always documentaries. Here are alternative programs that can be aired on the TV channel.
- Business news. A program that discusses the current goings-on in business. The program should include an analysis of stock trends, profitable business opportunities, and other business and economy news. A summary of the day’s business news could also be included on State of the Nation. Hire business analysts or have Vicky Morales, who started out as a business correspondent for GMA Network News anchor the daily news program. On the other hand, Mariz Umali could serve as business correspondent.
- Weather news. Aside from a daily summary, GMA News TV could also have a thirty-minute weather program. Weather news should not only include the Metro Manila weather report but also the weather in other key cities in the Philippines, in Asia and around the world. While rainfall, wind and tide forecasts should be included in the daily news reports, a discussion of other weather systems around Asia and the world may also be included in the program. The weather report on State of the Nation should include 6:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 6:00 PM and 12:00 AM temperature, rainfall, wind and tide forecasts for Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao. There should also be a three-day or five-day weather forecast for Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao plus sunrise and sunset times. In addition, for those traveling abroad, weather in key Asian and world cities. Nathaniel Cruz could serve as chief weather correspondent and senior meteorologist, but he can’t handle all the load himself. Thus, for this boosted weather report, train some GMA reporters in weather reporting or hire additional meteorologists.
- Sports news. Boxing and basketball are not the only sports in the Philippines. The reason for the low sports IQ of many Filipinos is that they do not get exposed to other sports. A daily dose of what’s happening in the PBA, UAAP, NCAA, NBA, FIFA, NHL, NFL as well as news from other sports like athletics, swimming, F1 racing, can be discussed in this thirty-minute or one-hour show. Sports should also be covered on State of the Nation. Let Mark Zambrano handle this news program and be GMA’s sports correspondent.
- International news. A lot of important foreign news is not being reported on Philippine TV. A one-hour daily round-up of foreign news deserves to be on GMA News TV. A section on international news should likewise be present on State of the Nation. Mariz Umali or Pia Arcangel can anchor.
- Entertainment news. Luanne Dy can anchor a news program ala-Entertainment Today. It should have both local and international entertainment news.
- An English late-night broadcast. Revive Review Philippines and make it a daily news program. Make it an all-English broadcast with Joel Reyes Zobel at the helm. Or, if there will be a female anchor alongside, Mariz Umali could partner with Joel Reyes Zobel. This can essentially be an English version of State of the Nation, only more summarized.
- A morning news and lifestyle show. Unang Hirit takes its format from Today and Good Morning America, but a morning news program on GMA News TV should be perkier and meatier. Isabelle Daza, Solenn Heussaff, Drew Arellano, Mikael Daez can anchor, while Pia Arcangel and Chino Gaston can anchor the news section.
- A replay of CBS Evening News. There used to be a replay of the CBS Evening News on QTV. Perhaps, this can be revived. The newscast can be aired back-to-back with News-to-Go.
- Programs like Amanpour and Anderson Cooper 360. GMA has several well-respected news reporters and anchors who could serve as anchors for programs like Amanpour and Anderson Cooper 360. Kara David could anchor a program ala-Amanpour, while Howie Severino could helm a show like Anderson Cooper 360.
- State of the Nation. Instead of being an “improved” version of 24 Oras, State of the Nation should present itself as a newscast that has a different culture. Less focus on minor news items like minor robberies, local crimes and traffic accidents. Greater focus on news items that matter: politics, business, weather, science, international news and sports. Section dividers should be used for separate sections of the program. Tap special correspondents for the special sections: Mariz Umali to report on business and economy, Mark Zambrano to report on sports, and Luanne Dy on Philippine and international entertainment.