Friday, August 15, 2008

TV and Pinoy Pay TV in Australia..Let the Games Begin!

Most of the world is now watching the Beijing games on TV as I write this, and whilst empty virgin seats are yet to be polished by tourist backsides most of us  are content enough with the boobtube. Thank God for TV! Plasma or LCD we want our  athletes show their true colours and in high resolution us we pump up adrenaline for our Aussie swimmers.

We're lucky to have SBS beam us complementary viewing (where I use a projector for this ethnic channel while  Channel 7 is second choice for normal TV:)

Anyway, as an added bonus we TV watchers have seen more Beijing fireworks that those who saw the opening ceremony live! LOL! And forget that pretty kid who did a Milli Vanelli act. We want to see the real kid singer Yang in the closing ceremony! Fair?:) (No Olympic game host was perfect anyway, not to mention Hitler's Munich show. Even Sydney 2000 had lots of angst and criticisms (remember that Homebush used to be an abattoir and also a toxic dump! Athletes frolicked while underneath their Nike-clad feet are nasty chems!). 

Here's  video update of lighter side of the Games;-)


...and after viewing video, let's stop bashing Beijing. Poor guys, they're just trying their best as Olympics host. Give 'em a few more days to rectify mistakes. Anyway after the  Games the world can get back to normal;-)

Sometime early '90s I did an airbrushed  illustration (above)  of Aussie TV channels which was commissioned and published by Australian Playboy)

In 1979 when I first came to Australia there were only Ch.2 (ABC/BBC TV network, always sophisticated and informative), Ch.7 (Always the Olympic channel), Ch.9 (that gave us “moonface” Bert Newton and recently made voyeurs of us watching Australia’s Funniest Home Videos) and Ch.10 (where prime time crazy game shows are often played). All free!

                                        Illustration (above) I did for The Australian, c.87

Now with pay TV there are more tv channels than we would have time to view. So why pay for so many channels we haven’t got time to watch? Well, there’s surfing convenience. TV on tap! I guess that’s what a subscriber is paying for. Like pc internet, we can open as many windows as we want and deal with each one of them in quick-shift browsing manner with efficient time management on choice.

                                     TV guide cover I did for Sydney Morning Herald c.92)

The world has turned (as a good friend succinctly put it). Satellites and computers have kicked-started the planet spinning on a different axis, upsetting analogue-driven machines which were too bulky for this newer but smaller world.
For a newly-arrived Filipino immigrant, the 80’s tv offered little. No pay tv nor internet (gasp!) Free-to-air tv was invasive entertainment ever since Australia was introduced to it 1956. I had no choice but to watch channels offered (tho’ I have to admit I learned a lot about this country via tv). Now Filipinos here can view Philippine channels with the flick of ...(“where’s the bl--dy remote?”:)

                         Regina Leviste-Boulos

                                 Filipino-Australian Pay TV Pioneer (above caricature)

In 1999 the first Filipino pay tv was cheered on by homesick Filipinos. Everyone was asking if one’s got TARBS (Television and Radio Broadcasting Services) which later became a buzzword for Filipino pay TV. Sadly it faded away and program feeds from Philippine tv network ended to the dismay of homesick Pinoy subscribers. During this time (and up to this time) no pay TV network in Australia was making a profit (Australis Media declared a net loss of $542M!) and eventually collapsed in 1997. Rigid governmental regulations and fierce resistance by free-to-air tv network lobbies seemed to have stifled development of pay tv in Australia, thus Filipino pay tv suffered, too.

In 2004 ABS-CBN (TFC) staked their flag in the Lucky Country and has monopolised Filipino pay tv in Australia eversince...

...until Regina Leviste-Boulos returned to the scene. On June 25 this year (my 59th summer!:) launched UBI Pinoy, a Filipino tv and radio package topbilled by GMA7. (Regina played a very significant part of first multi-cultural satellite pay tv launching in Australia in 1999 via TARBS and the first multi-cultural satellite pay tv launching in New Zealand this year via UBI World TV). Our community should be celebrating; more infotainment do more good than harm. Pinoys here will emerge winners when the air is rich with broadcast channels.

In an interview:

EA: Is this a resurrection of your pioneering Pinoy pay tv in Australia?

RB: I suppose so. But more than pioneering, I see it as a commitment to bring innovation and technology to the Filipino community in Australia and New Zealand. Before TARBS Filipino launched in 1999, no company in Australia and the Philippines was bold enough to venture into offering such a service for Filipino migrants. Now, under the UBI World TV banner, we are proud to continue servicing Filipino-Australians and Filipino-New Zealanders through ‘UBI Pinoy’, believing they are a community that deserve such an initiative.

EA: The other media pay TV here seems comfortable. You seem confident, is it Pepsi vs Coke?

RB: The other Filipino pay tv provider should be comfortable. After all, it is through the efforts and investments of TARBS that got them to where they are now. It should be known that this media company, seeing that TARBS had already developed the business, just took over by not renewing the agreement with TARBS, harvesting what TARBS had planted. But we are relentless in bringing in only the very best Filipino Service. Now, we are offering something else that Filipinos have long been clamouring for – GMA 7, acknowledged as number one in TV ratings in the Philippines today. As such, we are confident that ‘UBI Pinoy’ offers our community more of the best Filipino programming that they want and deserve.

EA: Briefly, what’s UBI Pinoy TV?

RB: In a nutshell, ‘UBI Pinoy’ offers the highest rating, premium quality and the most affordable Filipino entertainment, while catering for the information needs of the global Filipino.
We offer two of GMA 7’s most requested international channels: GMA Pinoy TV and GMA Life TV, which air 24 hours of the highest rating news, dramas, talk, comedies and entertainment, including some of our all-time favourite shows.
In addition, we offer news and commentary on DZBB AM and Filipino pop and homegrown music on DWLS FM. Further, two premier 24-hour international news channels, Al Jazeera International and Euro News, will satisfy the Filipino viewers’ strong interest in global news and events.

EA: Your company’s pay TV investment must be breathtaking (for a pauper like me); but are the Filipinos in Australia worth it?:-)

RB: We always saw that the Filipinos in Australia and New Zealand deserved to have their own pay TV service, and way back in 1999 we took the risks and made huge investments in order to make this a reality. ‘UBI Pinoy’ continues our pursuit of bringing in no less than the highest rating, the most awarded, the most informative, and the most entertaining Filipino programs and channels for our community.

EA: Will you hold on steadfastly for our entertainment?

RB: No doubt, we aim to do so. UBI World TV is as committed to continue serving the Filipino community for the long haul, as with the other migrant communities that UBI provides a service for. However, it is our community’s patronage of ‘UBI Pinoy’ that will ensure that we will be able to continue to provide and better this service for everyone.

EA: Do you see your company a dominant Filipino pay tv channel in the future?

RB: With our strong offering, and with the support of our kababayans in Australia and New Zealand, we see ‘UBI Pinoy’ as the preferred Filipino pay TV service by our community. We will be constantly expanding and enhancing the breadth and range of programming available on ‘UBI Pinoy’ – and this will be a further ‘value add’ for our subscribers and the wider Filipino community.

EA: Are you USB-ready? If I may rephrase that, have you allowed space for more developed high-technology?

RB: UBI’s services are founded on state-of-the-art satellite and fibre technology as well as sophisticated encryption and subscriber management technology. We are abreast of the latest developments in broadcasting and new media, and are in constant search for new services that we can offer to our subscribers.

EA: Tell me something about your dream and yourself, and how may your company contribute culturally to our community.

RB: I am one of the many Filipinos that have migrated to Australia to establish a new life. When I first arrived here in 1996, I felt a need to be connected to the Philippines and have access to the news and entertainment that I grew up with. I needed that to comfort me in the daily challenge of adjusting to a new country and a new way of life.
At that point, I realised that migrants of any cultural background share the same need, and I knew that a service that could establish that link to their homeland was an effort worth undertaking.

My dream is for UBI World TV to be THE ethnic broadcaster in Australia and New Zealand where migrants can turn to to find that link to the land where their identity came from. From the Filipino migrants, I look forward to hearing stories from them one day, of how their lives have been enriched, how their time at home has become more enjoyable, how their children have learned something valuable about the unique Filipino heritage they possess, and how they are in constant touch with the Philippines through ‘UBI Pinoy’. Those are concrete signposts that ‘UBI Pinoy’ will have made a significant contribution to the Filipino community.

EA: Thanks Regina. I wish your pay TV network well. Mabuhay ang Pinoy at ang Pinoy pay TV sa Australia!

RB: Maraming salamat Edd and to all the Filipino migrants who have already supported UBI World TV!