With News5Everywhere, TV5 and PLDT now a step closer to ‘convergence’

At the launch, Martin Andanar, project lead for News5Everywhere, shows everyone what News5Everywhere is all about. InterAksyon.com

Full force on convergence. (Clockwise from top left) Orlando Vea, Smart Communications chief wireless advisor and Sun Cellular CEO; Napoleon Nazareno, PLDT president and chief executive; Manuel V. Pangilinan, PLDT chairman and First Pacific managing director; Jose Roberto Alampay, InterAksyon.com editor-in-chief; Martin Andanar, News5Everywhere project lead; Noel Lorenzana, incoming Mediaquest president and CEO; Ramon Isberto, PLDT-Smart Communications public affairs head; Luchi Cruz Valdez, TV5 head of news and information; and Ray C. Espinosa, newly-appointed associate director, First Pacific Co.

MANILA, Philippines — With an eye toward “convergence” among companies in the PLDT Group, broadcast network TV5 on Friday launched a pioneering effort that marries the best of the group’s telco capabilities with the incisive news reportage of TV5 in an online portal dubbed “News5Everywhere.”

Accessible via http://www.news5.com.ph, News5Everywhere is a first-of-its-kind cloud-based audio and video management portal for News5, the news and information arm of TV5. Through the website, viewers can access live and on-demand streaming of news and public affairs shows being produced by News5, including those broadcast in Aksyon TV as well as shows coming from Radyo 5.

The portal complements News5′s operations by integrating audience preferences and interests across various media to deliver TV5′s unique brand of journalism and public service, which has come to be known by the adage, “Higit sa balita, Aksyon.”

The new service comes at a time when the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) Group, led by business mogul Manuel V. Pangilinan, stands at the crossroads of technology evolution, with new over-the-top players such as Facebook, Skype, and Viber threatening its telco arm’s traditional business model of merely providing access to communication.

In his speech at the Summit of the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) last year, Pangilinan stressed that these new services could render PLDT obsolete as what is called the “digital tsunami” floods and destroys companies which have refused to adapt to the times.

“To ignore them is perilous; but to surrender their space is unsafe,” the PLDT chairman remarked. “We must therefore find a balance where we can partner with OTT suppliers and evolve our business model in an independent yet cooperative way.”

“We might as well move into their space now, because we could easily get obsolete by a combination like that. That is why we invested in media,” he added.

In an interview with reporters after the News5Everywhere launch, Pangilinan pointed out that they have been talking about convergence in the telco and media space for over 10 years now, but it is only now that they are seeing it come into fruition.

The media and telecom mogul said that in a way, the convergence of TV5, Smart, and PLDT is a dream come true for him, but that there are many other forms of synergy currently in the pipeline.

“We will surprise the market in the next few weeks,” he teased.

For now, News5Everywhere stands as the initial attempt of the group toward convergence. “In terms of reportage, hopefully it would at least provide us with a more extensive coverage [of news],” Pangilinan explained. “Now we have 100 million reporters [to help us cover the news].”

More than housing digital versions of news shows produced by the network, News5Everywhere also acts as a medium for citizen journalism where viewers are encouraged to submit comments and video footage about relevant, newsworthy events in their respective localities.

A New Wave: ‘Streamcasting’

Using an iPhone 5 and LTE connection from Smart Communications, News5 weatherman Manu Sandejas demonstrated the possibilities of News5Everywhere: standing in front of the Makati Central Fire Station, he reported on how normal citizens, equipped with the ubiquitous phone, can instantly join in on the news as it happens.

“The buzzword now is ‘streamcasting’, where storytelling becomes trans-media,” explained Martin Andanar, project lead for News5Everywhere, referring to how journalism has evolved to transcend multiple platforms including print, radio, TV, and now online.

“Streamcasting” will become an essential part of News5′s coverage of the midterm elections next week, noted News5 Chief Luchi Cruz-Valdes, as it will enable the team to produce more live points across the country to provide more comprehensive updates on the elections.

“Technology has challenged us in many ways, and in one way it has come to spawn so many citizen journalists among us,” Valdes said. “And what better way to latch on to that trend than with News5Everywhere?”

As News5 moves toward more technology-powered coverage, Valdes said News5Everywhere epitomizes the media company’s vision of how news should be delivered and consumed by the public.

“With News5Everywhere, News5 is able to leverage the power of both media and technology in making the news accessible to everyone,” she said. “The platform is designed to encourage more citizens to share their perspectives on the news, which will help empower them to become more responsible and vigilant members of society.”