Friday, August 5, 2022

HBO MAX Planned to MERGE with DISCOVERY+ Sometime in 2023


Late last decade, when it seemed all major media giants were forming their own exclusive streaming services, WarnerMedia announced its own efforts to that end in 2018. The year after that the platform got its name: HBO Max, after WarnerMedia’s iconic cable channel. HBO Max would debut in 2020, the first year of the COVID pandemic. When various Warner Bros. films could not premiere conventionally in closed cinemas, they went straight to HBO Max. In that way, plus original productions, they built an impressive library of content. But barely three years after launch, the streaming service will undergo significant change.

As reported by The Verge, change is coming to HBO Max streaming in the form of a merger. Sometime in the middle of 2023 the SVOD service will combine with another streaming platform, Discovery+ which itself only started services in 2021. This merge came about as a logical next step following the merger of WarnerMedia (after splitting from AT&T) and Discovery Inc. last April, forming Warner Bros. Discovery. In the same manner as their parent companies, HBO Max and Discovery+ will combine, as explained by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav past Thursday, August 4.

During a WBD earnings call, Zaslav noted that the HBO Max-Discovery+ merge will benefit in that the latter’s tech support base would compensate for a rash of streaming performance hiccups on the part of the former. In return, the massive entertainment content of HBO Max would complement Discovery+ and its factual programming library. The move is not all wine and roses however. Preparations for the merger required HBO Max to cancel development of further original content films and series. Furthermore, some existing Max Original content have been pulled from streaming without notice. But that does not quite sting as much as the stoppage of prospective HBO Max-exclusive DC superhero film “Batgirl”, and a prequel to hit 2020 Scooby-Doo film “Scoob!”

These developments have led to entertainment news sources predicting dire straits for HBO Max and Warner Bros. Discovery overall. Zaslav has been playing damage control regarding these fears, saying that WBD is fully supportive of HBO Max, which he describes as becoming a brand of its own. That however does little to assuage expectant fans of “Batgirl”, which was reportedly almost done in production. With the merger not yet due until next year, there are no hints yet as to what the combined HBO Max-Discovery+ platform will ultimately be called.

Image courtesy of Android Authority

Monday, August 1, 2022

Former PH President and Elder Statesman: FIDEL V RAMOS, 94

He has been considered one of the most influential elder statesmen of the Philippines in the 21st Century. This was born from a lifetime of service, first in the military and then in politics. He became one of the central figures in the upheavals of 1986. Later he would be elected President of the country in 1992, the first of a Protestant faith though, as he himself points out, it mattered not in his administration. Even after his term he continued to have the ear of his successors. To his supporters it felt as if he would always be around.

Reality stepped in this Sunday, July 31 as reported by CNN Philippines. Fidel V. Ramos, General and 12th President of the Philippines, passed away At Makati Medical Center. He was 94 years old. Although no official cause of death was given by his family, it was believed to have risen from a period of ill health according to Silvester Bello III, who served as acting Justice Secretary during the Ramos Administration. Radio station DZRH posited that the former President was suffering from COVID-19, and succumbed to complications from the disease.

In the wake of his passing Ramos, also known as FVR, is remembered by public supporters and political contemporaries. Among the latter is President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who declared a national period of mourning from July 31 to August 9, with flags to fly at half-mast morning to sunset. Ramos figured prominently in the People Power Revolution that ended the administration of Marcos’ father, Ferdinand Sr. But on social media President Marcos spoke highly of FVR, stating on Facebook, “Our family shares the Filipino people’s grief on this sad day. We did not only lose a good leader but also a member of the family.”

Fidel V. Ramos was born 1928 in Pangasinan, and in his honor a Philippine professional basketball team in the short-lived MBA league called itself the Presidents for one season. A West Point Graduate, Ramos fought in the Korean War, served in Vietnam, and then became head of the Philippine Constabulary (PC). He was Chief of Staff in the Armed Forces of the Philippines when People Power happened in 1986, and was named Defense Secretary in the Corazon Aquino Administration. His record made him a solid candidate in the 1992 Presidential Election, which he won. The Ramos Administration was noted for securing peace with the MNLF and revitalizing the economy through the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Accolades to the late President were also given by his successors: Joseph Estrada, who served as Ramos’ Vice President; Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, current VP Sara Duterte. More honors came from the AFP with he once headed, and even the US Embassy to the Philippines and the European Union.

Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News

Monday, June 20, 2022



The May 2022 Philippine Presidential Elections may well be considered the most era-defining political exercise in the country’s history. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of former President Ferdinand Marcos, was elected to office in the largest victory margin since his father’s own back in 1981. No less formidable is his would-have-been competitor-turned-running mate, and now Vice President-elect: Sara Duterte-Carpio, Mayor of Davao City and daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte. Officially, elected officials would take office on June 30 of the election year, when their inaugurations usually take place. VP-elect Duterte however decided to be inaugurated early this past Sunday.

The Philippine Star reports that Sara Duterte went into her early inauguration as 15th Vice President of the Philippines on June 19. True to form and in honor of her hometown, of which her current Mayoral term is soon to conclude, the VP-elect was inaugurated in San Pedro Square of Davao City, 11 days before the traditional inauguration day and start of term on June 30. In fact, despite the ceremony Duterte will not start work as Vice President until the last day of the month.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando administered the oath of office to “Inday Sara”, while her mother Elizabeth Zimmermann held the Bible she swore on and Presidents Rodrigo Duterte (outgoing) and Bongbong Marcos (incoming) stood as the chief witnesses. In her inauguration speech, Duterte-Carpio explained her decision to be inaugurated early in that it would allow her to do so in Davao City itself, where she served as Mayor for three terms (2010-13 and 2016-2022). She also remarked on what could have been with her life if she did not follow her father’s political footsteps, noting that she initially thought of becoming a doctor. The call to service by the people however, steered her until this important moment.

“I am not the best or the smartest in the Philippine but nobody in the Philippines or even the world has greater heart than I do as a Filipino,” declared Inday Sara in her speech. And voters last May agreed, with Duterte earning more than 32 million votes or 61% of the total. The outgoing Davao City Mayor also has the full confidence of incoming President Bongbong Marcos, who has already appointed her as his Secretary of Education. Among Duterte’s ideas for the future of DepEd include the return of face-to-face classes and ROTC program, and introducing mandatory military service.

Image courtesy of Nikkei Asia