GMA-7 lays siege for the top spot

Hit shows, idol Gomez part of plan to sipe ratings

MANILA — Who’s afraid of the Philippines’ No. 1 network ABS-CBN? Not No. 2 net GMA-7, which has unveiled a comprehensive package to steal back the top spot it lost in the mid-1980s.

It unveiled new TV shows late April, buoyed by healthy revs and a ratings hike.

The new package includes soap “Kung mawawala ka” (If You Ever Go) that has already grabbed auds in is first few weeks on air, sitcom “Da Boy and Da Girl,” youth drama series “Kahit Kailan” (Anytime), seven new movies that will premiere on Philippine television and the return of phenomenal Mexican telenovela, “Marimar.”

GMA also has lured ABS-CBN stalwart and matinee idol Richard Gomez into its fold as host of a showbiz talkshow.

Behind the cameras, former ABS-CBN man Phillip Yalung is now VP for GMA corporate services. And Manuel Quiogue, former top ABS-CBN strategist, is president of marketing and productions, replacing longtime GMA man Bobby Barreiro.

Gilberto R. Duavit, Jr. , son of one of the original GMA partners, is now executive VP and chief operating officer of the network. He also heads TV production and programming.

Even the Jimenez family, which used to control the network, has sold part of its stake. GMA president and CEO Felipe L. Gozon took over the leadership of the network in late 2000 and set about recapturing top spot.

“We are working hard to be No. 1 again; we’re no longer happy being No. 2,” Gozon told media last month.

The network also is looking at international expansion, where its competitor enjoys a long head start.

But the real battle will be fought in programming. GMA’s news and public affairs shows have the edge over those of ABS-CBN. Entertainment remains the stronghold of ABS-CBN.

But Duavit says GMA’s entertainment group is working hard to equal and surpass ABS-CBN.