ABS-CBN

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ABS-CBN
TypeTelevision and new media network
Blocktime with ZOE TV (from October 10, 2020)[1] and TV5 (from January 24, 2021)[2]
BrandingKapamilya Network[note 1]
Country
AvailabilityNationwide (main transmitter inactive, currently broadcasting via Kapamilya Channel and ZOE's A2Z)
Worldwide (via The Filipino Channel)
FoundedOctober 23, 1953; 67 years ago (1953-10-23)
by James Lindenberg,
Antonio Quirino,
Eugenio Lopez, Sr.,
and Fernando Lopez
SloganIn the Service of the Filipino (main slogan)
Kapamilya Forever (slogan during its shutdown)
TV stationsList of TV stations
37.58% (Nielsen National Urban TAM January–August 2016)[3]
HeadquartersABS-CBN Broadcasting Center, Diliman, Quezon City
OwnerABS-CBN Corporation
Key people
Launch date
Terrestrial:
October 23, 1953; 67 years ago (1953-10-23)
(initial)
September 14, 1986; 34 years ago (1986-09-14)
(post-People Power Revolution)
Blocktime:
October 10, 2020; 6 months ago (2020-10-10) (Blocktime with ZOE TV)[1]
January 24, 2021; 2 months ago (2021-01-24) (Blocktime with TV5)[5][6]
DissolvedTerrestrial:
September 23, 1972; 48 years ago (1972-09-23)
(martial law)
End of terrestrial free TV broadcast:
May 5, 2020; 11 months ago (2020-05-05)
(legislative franchise lapsed)
Former names
Alto Broadcasting System (ABS)
Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN)
Picture format
1080i (HDTV)
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
Sister network
S+A
International channel
The Filipino Channel
Official website
www.abs-cbn.com
LanguageFilipino (main)
English (secondary)
ReplacedBBC-2 (1973–1986)
Replaced by

ABS-CBN (an initialism of its two predecessors' names, Alto Broadcasting System and Chronicle Broadcasting Network) is a Philippine commercial television and new media network, as well as program distributor that serves as the flagship property of ABS-CBN Corporation, a company under the Lopez Group. The network is headquartered at the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center in Quezon City, with additional offices and production facilities in 25 major cities including Baguio, Naga, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cebu, and Davao. ABS-CBN is colloquially referred to as the Kapamilya Network;[note 1] this branding was originally introduced in 1999 and was officially introduced in 2003 during the celebration of its 50th anniversary. ABS-CBN is the largest media company in the country in terms of assets and international coverage.[7]

ABS-CBN is the first and oldest television broadcaster in Southeast Asia and one of the oldest commercial television broadcasters in Asia. It has also been the leading television network in the Philippines with advertising revenues of 21.2 billion pesos for the fiscal year of 2015.[8][9][10][11][12] ABS-CBN's very first-ever television broadcast was on October 23, 1953, as Alto Broadcasting System (ABS) on DZAQ-TV, just 3 months after the first broadcast of Japan's NHK General TV and Nippon Television. It is also the first television network in Southeast Asia to broadcast in color, the first television network in the Philippines to formally launch a digital terrestrial television service, and the first broadcast television network in the Philippines to formally launch in HD.[13]

The flagship television station of ABS-CBN is DWWX-TV (ABS-CBN TV-2 Manila). As such, the network is also referred to informally as Channel 2 or Dos (sometimes used in the Filipino language to mean the number two) even if the network is seen in other channel numbers elsewhere in the country. The network operates across the Philippine archipelago through the ABS-CBN Regional division which controls 80 television stations.[8][14] Its programs are also available outside the Philippines through the global subscription television channel The Filipino Channel (TFC) which is available in over three million paying households worldwide as well as terrestrially in Guam through KEQI-LP. Since 2011, the network has been on test broadcast for digital terrestrial television using the Japanese standard ISDB-T in select areas in the Philippines. It also partnered with KANTAR Media Inc. the ratings provider of ABS-CBN and other media entity. On October 3, 2015, ABS-CBN started to broadcast in high-definition through its affiliate direct-to-home cable and satellite television providers.[13]

ABS-CBN was issued a cease-and-desist order by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Solicitor General Jose Calida on May 5, 2020, after the NTC refused to renew the network's franchise license earlier in February 2020. The franchise license expired on May 4, 2020, and a day later, ABS-CBN officially signed off in the evening.[15][16] Kapamilya Channel was then set up as a replacement of its main terrestrial channel which can be viewed via cable, satellite and online. Kapamilya Online Live a web-based channel, was also set up to exclusively livestream some of its contents to online video-sharing platforms Facebook and YouTube.

On October 10, 2020, A2Z Channel 11 was launched as the network's temporary terrestrial channel space which is a blocktime agreement between ABS-CBN Corporation and ZOE Broadcasting Network while some of ABS-CBN Entertainment programs are being shown on TV5 starting January 24, 2021.

As of March 1, 2021, the network's main YouTube channel currently holds the most subscribed and most viewed channel in South East Asia with 32.8 million subscribers and 44.1 billion views surpassing Thailand's Workpoint TV.[17]

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

James Lindenberg, the owner of BEC and an American engineer, was the first to apply for a license to the Philippine Congress to establish a television station in 1949. His request was granted on June 14, 1950, under Republic Act No. 511. Because of the strict import controls and the lack of raw materials needed to open a TV station in the Philippines during the mid-20th century, Lindenberg branched to radio broadcasting instead with the sign-on of experimental radio station DZBC.[18]

Judge Antonio Quirino, brother of former President Elpidio Quirino, also tried to apply for a license to Congress, but was denied. He later purchased stocks from BEC and subsequently consummated the controlling stock to rename the company from BEC to Alto Broadcasting System (ABS).

DZAQ-TV began commercial television operations on October 23, 1953; the first fully licensed commercial television station in the Philippines. The first program to air was a garden party at the Quirino residence in Sitio Alto, San Juan. After the premiere telecast, the station followed a four-hour-a-day schedule, from six to ten in the evening.[18]

On June 16, 1955, Republic Act No. 1343 signed by President Ramon Magsaysay granted Manila Chronicle owner Eugenio Lopez, Sr. and former Vice President Fernando Lopez, a radio-TV franchise from the Congress and immediately established Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN) on September 24, 1956, which initially focused only on radio broadcasting.[19][20] On February 24, 1957, Lopez invited Judge Quirino to his house for breakfast and ABS was bought under a contract written on a table napkin. The corporate name was reverted to Bolinao Electronics Corporation immediately after the purchase of ABS.[18] With the establishment of DZXL-TV 9 of CBN on April 19 (or July[21]), 1958,[18] the Lopez brothers controlled both television channels in the archipelago, culminating in the first wave of expansion. In 1961, BEC launched the nation's first regional and provincial television station in Cebu City.[18]

In 1966, ABS-CBN was among the most advanced broadcasting facility of its kind in Asia. Full-color broadcasts began in 1971 (8 hours a day) on ABS-CBN 2 with the availability of more color television sets around Manila and neighboring municipalities and cities.[18]

Martial Law era[edit]

The ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center in Diliman, Quezon City, the headquarters of ABS-CBN

When then-President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, the station was forced, along with its regional stations and other television networks, to shut down, and the company was seized from the Lopez brothers.[22] Its newly built headquarters was renamed as the "Broadcast Plaza", and it became the home of the three TV stations that were controlled by the Marcos regime. The first TV station that took over the facility was the Kanlaon Broadcasting System or KBS-9 (later renamed as Radio Philippines Network or RPN-9 in 1975), after its headquarters and studios at Roxas Boulevard (which ironically previously used by ABS-CBN before moving to Broadcast Center and sold to KBS-9) was destroyed by fire on June 6, 1973. KBS-9 was owned by Marcos crony Roberto Benedicto and was the only TV network that was never shut down by the government in the wake of martial law declaration. In 1974, Benedicto-owned Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation or BBC-2, with call sign changed to DWWX-TV, and the state-run Government Television or GTV-4 (later renamed as Maharlika Broadcasting System or MBS-4), with call sign changed to DWGT-TV, soon also took over the Broadcast Plaza. Both TV stations were previously used by ABS-CBN during the pre-Martial Law era. BBC and RPN were relocated to the Broadcast City compound in Old Balara, Quezon City (along with then-sister station Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation or IBC) in 1978.[18]

Reestablishment[edit]

As the People Power Revolution (commonly known as EDSA Revolution) broke out in early 1986, and Marcos' grip on power debilitated, the reformists in the military contended the broadcasting network would be a vital asset for victory. Thus, at 10 am on February 24, 1986, they attacked and took the ABS-CBN Broadcast Center that was then the home of MBS-4[18] and the long hibernation of the station ended in March.

After Marcos was deposed, the newly created Presidential Commission on Good Government approved the return of the network's flagship station Channel 2 to the Lopezes in June 1986[23] but not Channel 4. The Lopez family continued to own the network itself during the Marcos regime.[24] On September 14, 1986, ABS-CBN went back on the air with the TV special, "We're back!!",[25] broadcasting from what used to be their main garage at the revived Broadcast Center in the pre-Martial Law days. In January 1987, the network was forced to share space in the building that was rightfully their own with the government TV station Channel 4 (until January 22, 1992). At the time, money had been scarce while resources were limited; offices were used as dressing rooms and other equipment such as chairs, tables, and phones were in short supply.[18]

Nine years after the revival on March 30, 1995, Republic Act No. 7966 signed by President Fidel Ramos granted ABS-CBN its legislative franchise for the second time.[26]

2000s to the 2020s[edit]

During the historic presidential election of 2010, in response to the first automation of the election in the country, ABS-CBN utilized a technology from Orad Hi Tech Systems Ltd. that utilizes the principles of augmented reality.[27] The technology uses real-time image processing system for live broadcasts of 3D computer-generated imagery against a real set or background. ABS-CBN also utilized what was probably the biggest touch screen display to be used in a Philippine television show. A new set dubbed as the "WAR" (Wireless Audience Response) room was specifically designed for the said election coverage.[28] The coverage of ABS-CBN became the third top trending topic worldwide on the social networking site Twitter.[29][30]

In February 2017, ABS-CBN has upgraded Control Rooms 3 and 10 at its TV production studios in Quezon City with identical Lawo mc²56 audio consoles. The new consoles replaced two dated desks and were installed by Broadcast Communications International, the main contractor for the upgrade. The IP-based Lawo production consoles – each with 64 faders and providing 270 DSP channels, a routing capacity of 5120×5120 crosspoints, integrated Waves SoundGrid servers and connectivity via four DALLIS I/O frames, mark the first Lawo equipment installations in the Philippines. The modernized IP-ready studio control rooms went on-air in January 2018.[31]

In June 2018, it receives the YouTube Diamond Creator Award for being the first YouTube channel in the Philippines to reach 10 million subscribers for its entertainment channel. The channel is also one of the only three channels in Southeast Asia to have reached the milestone on the popular video-sharing platform, after Thai TV network Workpoint and Thai entertainment company GMM Grammy.[32] It also becomes the first YouTube channel in the Philippines to hit 20 and 30 million subscribers.[33][34]

In July 2018, ABS-CBN won a prestigious Gold Quill award of excellence at the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Gold Quill Awards in Montreal, Canada for its "Wow at Saya" audience experience program for the network's live shows such as It's Showtime and ASAP Natin 'To.[35]

In 2018, ABS CBN won 30 awards during the 16th Gawad Tanglaw awards and also won 34 awards during the 32nd Star Awards for Television for their good TV programs and personalities.[36][37]

Also in December of the same year, ABS-CBN inaugurated its new state-of-the-art sound stages studio complex called Horizon IT Park located at San Jose del Monte, Bulacan which was on par with Hollywood standards. The Phase 1 of the project includes its first two sound stages each sized of 1,500 square meters, with the first stage was named for its chairman emeritus, Eugenio Lopez III who visioned of the new studios, The EL3 Stage. The complex also includes backlots, facilities for its production and post-production, and offices. The studios will be used for its upcoming teleserye The Faithful Wife and its reality singing competition show, Idol Philippines, using the name as "Idol City".[38][39][40][41]

In September 2019, ABS-CBN had announced that it would be venturing into Hollywood production for the US film and TV outfit Electric Entertainment which is headed by Filipino-American producer Dean Devlin with a U.S. crime series Almost Paradise, set in Cebu and would air in the United States via the cable company, WGN America. It was ABS-CBN’s first foray into Hollywood television production.[42] The series’ production in Bigfoot Soundstage in Cebu began filming in November 2019.

2020: COVID-19 pandemic, franchise renewal issue and shutdown[edit]

On March 10, 2020, in the wake of the World Health Organization-declared COVID-19 pandemic that had also spread across the Philippines, as well as President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of state of public health emergency after the first local transmission of the coronavirus was confirmed, ABS-CBN announced that it would temporarily suspend its admission of studio audience in tapings for its game, talk, variety and reality shows, including Magandang Buhay, It's Showtime, ASAP Natin 'To, Banana Sundae and the second season of the Philippine version of South Korean game show I Can See Your Voice, to provide safety and well-being to its artists, crew and production teams. The aforementioned shows would, however, continue to air in production without a studio audience.[43]

Then, on March 15, 2020, ABS-CBN temporarily suspended production of its entertainment shows, after Metro Manila was put under a community quarantine (partial lockdown), later turned into an enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon (total lockdown). Among the prime time shows affected included Pamilya Ko, FPJ's Ang Probinsyano, Make It with You (later canceled without completing its story in June 2020) and A Soldier's Heart, which were all put on hold from March 16, 2020 until May/June 2020.[44][45] The network aired reruns of some teleseryes and other programs including 100 Days to Heaven, May Bukas Pa, On the Wings of Love, The Legal Wife, Got to Believe, Walang Hanggan, Wildflower, Wansapanataym, iWant Originals Series, Tubig at Langis, Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids Season 1, Pilipinas Got Talent Season 6, Bayani, Hiraya Manawari and Sine'skwela.

On May 5, 2020, ABS-CBN was issued a cease-and-desist order by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Solicitor General Jose Calida after the NTC refused to renew the network's franchise license earlier in February 2020. After meeting controversy and national outcry over the initial NTC refusal, ABS-CBN was initially allowed to operate under a temporary license, with support from both senate and congress. Investigations by various government offices showed that the company had no deficiencies or issues. There are allegations that the NTC refusal over the franchise renewal was based on the network's critical news coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration. The franchise license expired on May 4, 2020, and a day later, ABS-CBN officially signed off in the evening.[15][46] This was the second time the network went off-air after the declaration of martial law by Former President Ferdinand Marcos on September 23rd 1972.[22][47] ABS-CBN was forced to suspend operations for all of its physical broadcasting channels (with the exception of Cine Mo!, Yey!, Kapamilya Box Office (KBO) through a blocktime agreement with the AMCARA Broadcasting Network in Metro Manila, Laguna, Iloilo and some portions of Baguio and the cable channels run by the Creative Programs subsidiary of the company). The franchise was in the process of renewal, but had however been delayed due to the extension of the enhanced community quarantine to May 15, 2020, 11 days after the scheduled expiration.[48] The network went off-air at exactly 7:52 pm (PST) of May 5.[49]

On July 10, 2020, members of the House of Representatives, particularly the Committee on Legislative Franchises, voted 70–11 to deny the franchise application of ABS-CBN, citing several issues on the network's franchise. Only about 12.94% of the Congress voted for franchise renewal.[50][51] As a result, the network is forced to cease the operations of some of its businesses and laid off its workers by the end of August 2020.[52] Its President and CEO, Carlo Katigbak said the company remains committed to the public service, with hoping to find other ways to pursue their mission.[53] According to a survey released by the Social Weather Stations or SWS that was released following the rejection of the network's franchise renewal, showed that an overwhelming majority (75%) of all Filipinos want the network back.[54]

2020–present: Shifting to cable, new media and a content provider[edit]

ABS-CBN shifted its focus on platforms that do not require legislative franchise. These include international licensing and distribution, digital and cable platforms, content syndication via different streaming services and block-timing with different TV networks.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News chief Ging Reyes, said the media network is set in shifting its operations online and she hopes that they could continue their good performance in terms of audience engagement, being the number one news digital property in the country. Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, ABS-CBN plans to create additional programs apart from TV Patrol and produce more online video content and rebuild ABS-CBN’s current news affairs lineup in the future such as making documentaries.[55]

Also in a separate interview with Star Magic head Laurenti Dyogi, said they are looking for new opportunities and that they would like to venture into international production and the prospect of going beyond the Philippine territory. ABS-CBN and Star Magic would like to be a major player locally and globally by launching idol groups similar to K-pop and by partnering with Netflix, WeTV iflix, Viu and other over-the-top platforms for their contents. Back in 2019, the network co-produced with American film production company Electric Entertainment for the crime-drama television series Almost Paradise. It was the network's first taste of a North American production and a second season of the series is in the planning stage. The network plans to invent its storytelling to match with American, European and Korean dramas.[56]

In December 2020, Dreamscape Entertainment revealed during the digital pre-show of ABS-CBN's 2020 Christmas special that their partnership with Korean management company MLD Entertainment will push through in 2021 for the international series "The Soulmate Project" starring Nancy McDonie of Momoland and James Reid. The cast and crew had started work on the series in February 2020, with Reid and McDonie undergoing look tests, workshops, and site immersion until the COVID-19 pandemic prevented further progress. A new filming date has yet to be announced.[57] Members of Momoland are also expected to star in local contents together with ABS-CBN artists including Star Music and Star Magic artists, after the K-pop girl group signed in 2019 a contract with ABS-CBN as part of the network’s going global.[58]

On June 15, 2020, ABS-CBN announced its partnership with GMMTV, a leading content company in Thailand as it bagged the television and over-the-top rights to air eight drama series from GMMTV that was dubbed in Filipino and was shown on Kapamilya Channel and iWantTFC. First to air is the top-trending Boys' Love (BL) romance-comedy, 2gether: The Series. The first tagalized Thai boys' love series to air on Philippine TV.[59] Still 2gether, the sequel of the said show, was also shown on August 15, 2020 with a one-day delayed telecast from Thailand.[60] A stronger alliance between ABS-CBN and GMMTV is expected as they explore co-production of film and television content, music, and live entertainment. One of them is a virtual fan event called "BrightWin Manila: The Virtual Fan Meet" was held via KTX on December 5, 2020 after the success of Hello Stranger: The Final FanCon due to the rising popularity of BL's during the COVID-19 pandemic.[61] Both networks are also collaborating to co-produce a project starring one of 2gether: The series’ lead actors and an ABS-CBN artist under Dreamscape Entertainment. The project is currently under development.[62]

On August 17, 2020, the series Ang sa Iyo ay Akin was the first original digital teleserye to be broadcast on Kapamilya Channel and Kapamilya Online Live during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the scenes were shot in the ABS-CBN Soundstage inside the Horizon IT Park in Bulacan.[63]

On April 13, 2021, ABS-CBN and the BBC officially announced the first drama format collaboration between BBC Studios and ABS-CBN Entertainment for a new scripted format drama Doctor Foster.[64] In South Korea, the format is known locally as The World of the Married Couple, was the country’s highest-rated drama in cable TV history and the first Asianovela to be shown on the networks' newly launched Kapamilya Channel on June 15, 2020.[65]

Kapamilya Channel[edit]

On June 4, 2020, ABS-CBN announced on TV Patrol that the cable-and-satellite Kapamilya Channel launched on June 13, serving as the interim replacement of ABS-CBN terrestrial network, and thus resuming the production of ABS-CBN's drama and live entertainment shows and the airing its entertainment, educational and current affairs programming, along with films.[66] A high-definition counterpart was also launched on Sky Cable and Destiny Cable Channel 167 replacing the now-defunct ABS-CBN HD.[67]

Kapamilya Online Live[edit]

On July 31, 2020, ABS-CBN announced the launch of Kapamilya Online Live, an online entertainment channel that will be streamed on two online video-sharing platforms without any subscription fee. It began to stream on August 1, 2020 and is available both on ABS-CBN Entertainment’s YouTube channel and Facebook page as the network shifts efforts to digital platforms. Live-streams are presented in 1080p HD format. It also starts to offer a video on demand service of its shows accessible for seven days after their original streaming date.[68] ABS-CBN Entertainment currently has more than 60 million followers combined in Facebook and YouTube.[69]

YouTube and Facebook[edit]

Aside from Kapamilya Online Live, selected ABS-CBN shows are independently live-streaming on several YouTube channels and Facebook pages owned by the network.

On May 7, 2020, two days after the halt of ABS-CBN's TV and radio broadcast, TV Patrol announced it would continue delivering the news through ABS-CBN News official YouTube channel and Facebook page via live-stream, geo-blocked in the Philippines.[70] This was followed by The World Tonight on July 27, 2020.[71]

On June 13, 2020, It's Showtime: Online Ü resumed its broadcast on It's Showtime official YouTube channel and Facebook page simulcast from Kapamilya Channel.[72]

On November 11, 2020, ABS-CBN announced that viewers worldwide will have free access to TV Patrol on ABS-CBN News YouTube and Facebook account, lifting the geo-blocking to the said show while local viewers will also be able to live-stream and catch up on episodes of various ANC and TeleRadyo shows for the first time.[73] ABS-CBN News completely lifted the use of geo-blocking to all of its contents on March 1, 2021.[74]

iWant TFC and The Filipino Channel[edit]

On August 24, 2020, ABS-CBN announced that they will be merging iWant and TFC Online starting September 1 and will be migrating to a new system that will be accessible worldwide and will be called iWantTFC. It offers live video streamings and video on demand of contents produced by ABS-CBN, new features such as offline viewing of select movies and series, as well as an enhanced viewing experience on bigger screens through select smart tv brands and digital media players.[75]

In early February 2021, seven TFC channels went live with Amagi cloud platform to consolidate its play-out operations on the cloud to expand its reach and gain greater flexibility. Amagi is a global leader in SaaS for broadcast and streaming TV.[76] ABS-CBN now manages end-to-end workflow on the cloud, eliminating the need for expensive hardware and broadcast center operations, giving it the flexibility to run its global channels with live news from anywhere. Amagi clients include A+E Networks, beIN Sports, Discovery Networks, IMG and Warner Media, among others.[77]

The Filipino Channel also launched its new and improved programming lineup with the introduction of time blocks similar to Kapamilya Channel, new shows and more viewing options while it has successfully completed its migration to high-definition in all of its international feed on February 20, 2021 which is available in iWantTFC, TFC IPTV and TFC Direct via cable and satellite.[78][79]

KTX[edit]

Relaunched in August 2020, KTX also known as Kapamilya Tickets is an online ticketing and streaming platform which enables its users to purchase tickets to advance screening of ABS-CBN shows, movies, digital concerts and other event production attractions, as well as avail tickets to ABS-CBN programs to be part of their virtual audience via Zoom.[80] Continuing its digital shift, ABS-CBN is turning to digital events through KTX while big live events are prohibited during the COVID-19 pandemic. It held its first digital fan conference that marked the finale of the BL series Hello Stranger which later was shown on Kapamilya Online Live and TFC.[81] Originally launched in May 2017, KTX used to be a ticketing portal for ABS-CBN Studio Tour to shows such as It's Showtime and ASAP Natin 'To before the pandemic lockdown.[82] Most notable digital shows handled by KTX include Miss Universe Philippines 2020, The Fact Music Awards 2020, BrightWin Manila: The Virtual Fan Meet, Freedom: Regine Velasquez-Alcasid Digital Concert and Sarah Geronimo Tala: The Film Concert. A new revamp on its web user interface was launched on March 30, 2021.[83]

Radio Service[edit]

The ABS-CBN Radio Service is an app that let its users to have access to the exclusive news, talk and music content directly from their mobile device no matter where they are located in the world. It live-streams audio from Teleradyo and the most recently added MOR Entertainment and MyxRadio[84] while latest podcast from selected ABS-CBN News and ANC programs such as TV Patrol are available on demand. The said app is part of ABS-CBN Digital Media division in partnership with Zeno Media[85] and is currently available on iOS and Android devices free of charge.[86]

Blocktime deals and partnership agreements[edit]

Partnership with Kumu (2020–present)[edit]

In October 2020, ABS-CBN partnered with Kumu to launch the ninth season of reality TV show Pinoy Big Brother: Connect amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The app hosted online auditions for the reality show, which attracted over 100,000 new users, and it also live-streamed activities inside the Big Brother House when the show premiered.[87][88] The partnership between the two parties entails greater visibility for ABS-CBN’s artists and talents outside of mainstream media, with Kumu providing an alternative channel for said artists to connect with their large fan bases locally. It's currently live-streaming Game Ka Na Ba?, the first game show in the world to be watched on television and played on a mobile app, [89][90] separate channels for FYE, MOR Entertainment, Myx, SeenZone as well as artist from BGYO, BINI, MNL48, Star Magic, Star Hunt, Polaris, Star Music and Rise Artist Studio.[91][92]

Blocktime deal with ZOE TV (2020–present)[edit]

On October 6, 2020, ABS-CBN Corporation announced that they will air its shows and movies back on Free TV via the new "A2Z" channel starting October 10, 2020. It is a blocktime agreement between the media conglomerate and ZOE Broadcasting Network.[93][94] A month later, Minority Leader and Congressman Joseph Stephen Paduano of Abang Lingkod Party List called for an investigation into the ABS-CBN-A2Z Channel 11 blocktime deal.[95] The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) were told to investigate.[96]

Partnership with Brightlight and TV5/Cignal (2021–present)[edit]

On January 18, 2021, ABS-CBN Corporation and TV5 were allegedly doing a partnership agreement to further expand the reach of Kapamilya Network on Free TV. There are some possible results that most of ABS-CBN shows and programs that were not able to be broadcast on ABS-CBN and ZOE's A2Z Channel 11 will be aired on TV5.[97]

On January 21, 2021, ABS-CBN jointly announced with TV5 and Cignal TV, in conjunction with Brightlight Productions, that both ASAP Natin 'To and the FPJ: Da King movie block will be simulcasted on the Kapatid network's lineup every Sunday afternoon beginning January 24, 2021. This also marks the first time that ABS-CBN programs will be aired on free-to-air television nationwide since the May 5, 2020 shutdown. Despite this development, both shows will continue to air on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live (except FPJ: Da King), and A2Z Channel 11.[98]

On March 5, 2021, ABS-CBN and TV5/Cignal announced that TV5 will also simulcast the ABS-CBN Entertainment's primetime shows beginning March 8.[99]

Partnership with WeTV iflix (2021–present)[edit]

On March 18, 2021, ABS-CBN and WeTV iflix announced a landmark partnership that brings the Kapamilya network’s primetime programs, including FPJ's Ang Probinsyano to the two streaming platforms starting March 20, with early access for subscribed users. Viewers can watch brand new series first as it premieres on WeTV and iflix VIP 46 hours before it airs on local TV. [100]

ABS-CBN Regional[edit]

ABS-CBN Regional (formerly Regional Network Group) serves as the regional network division of ABS-CBN. It is responsible for simultaneously airing most of the shows seen on ABS-CBN's flagship station in the provinces, all stations (Cebu, Bacolod and Davao) were reopened 16 years ago in 1988 after the network's hibernation due to Martial law in September 1972 aside from Manila's flagship station, which reopened after the People Power Revolution in September 1986. ABS-CBN Regional has several stations in each region outside Mega Manila to ensure nationwide coverage. The local stations also produce their own newscasts which air prior to TV Patrol and other local programming which air on Sundays. The launch of the local game show Kapamilya Winner Ka! (now renamed as Kapamilya, Mas Winner Ka!) in the Visayas and Mindanao, Bagong Morning Kapamilya in North Luzon (Baguio and Dagupan), the 17th local TV Patrol in Southern Tagalog (Region IV-A), and the 18th local TV Patrol in Palawan (IV-B; the network had an affiliate station), provided more relevance to regional audiences.[101] On April 15, 2011, RNG launched ChoosePhilippines, a new website aimed to promote tourism in the Philippines by sharing photos and stories of the most extravagant places, culture, and arts of the Philippine island.[102]

ABS-CBN Regional ceased its operations with 12 TV Patrol's regional newscasts and 10 morning shows ended their broadcast on August 28, 2020 after almost 32 years following the denial of its legislative franchise on July 10.[103][104][105] It was replaced by Regional News Group on September 2020.

Programming[edit]

The majority of the programs shown on the network are created by ABS-CBN Corporation's Entertainment division. ABS-CBN Entertainment Group was responsible for original programs ranging from musical and variety shows, showbiz, lifestyle, comedy talk shows, comedy, gag shows, and sitcoms. Original and adapted telenovelas and drama anthologies are produced by Dreamscape, Star Creatives and other production drama units created by ABS-CBN, while news, public service, and documentary programs are produced by ABS-CBN News and by other independent production outfits. ABS-CBN also acquires and syndicates program formats from abroad, most of which are reality shows. ABS-CBN also shows regional programs, TV specials, sporting and awarding events.

Digital transition[edit]

Digital terrestrial television[edit]

An ABS-CBN news van in front of the Office of the Ombudsman building

ABS-CBN Corporation initially applied for a license from the National Telecommunications Commission to operate a digital terrestrial television service in the country back in 2007.[106] ABS-CBN planned to utilize multiplex to offer ABS-CBN, S+A, and 5 additional specialty TV channels. The conglomerate was expected to spend at least 1 billion pesos annually for the next 5 years for its DTT transition.[107] ABS-CBN utilized UHF channel 51 Manila (695.143 MHz), later UHF Channel 43 (647.143 MHz), for test broadcasts in the DVB-T format. ABS-CBN was expected to begin digital test broadcasts in January 2009.[106][108]

In June 2010, the NTC announced that it would formally adopt the Japanese standard ISDB-T for digital broadcasting and issued a circular commanding all the country's television networks to switch-off their analog services on December 31, 2015, at 11:59 p.m. Philippine Standard Time (UTC+8).[109] But due to delay of the release of the implementing rules and regulations for digital television broadcast, the target date was moved to 2023.[110]

In April 2011, the conglomerate announced further details about its DTT plans, which would offer ABS-CBN and Studio 23 (currently S+A). In addition, four new channels which will be exclusively available to its digital users will be offered once the digital broadcast start. The specialty TV channel lineup will include one news channel, one youth-oriented channel, an educational channel, and a movie channel. The conglomerate was also planning to utilize the 1seg (one segment) broadcast standard for handheld devices.[111][112][113][114]

In September 2014, ABS-CBN soft-launched its DTT service started selling ISDB-T receivers in selected barangays in Metro Manila under Sky TV+ brand. Later, it was rebranded as ABS-CBN TVplus.[115]

On February 11, 2015, ABS-CBN formally launched its DTT service under the name ABS-CBN TVplus in a formal switch-over ceremony held at the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center. The ABS-CBN TVplus service has four exclusive TV channels which are free of charge; these are movie channel Cine Mo!, news channel DZMM TeleRadyo, educational channel Knowledge Channel, and kids channel Yey!. In addition to ABS-CBN and S+A, all non-encrypted digital terrestrial broadcast within the area was also carried by the service. ABS-CBN TVplus also provides pay per view, EWBS, and BML services. As of February 2020, ABS-CBN TVplus has sold over 9 million units of its set-top boxes.[116]

High-definition television[edit]

The logo of ABS-CBN HD

In 2007, ABS-CBN produced the first ever Filipino TV series to be shot in high-definition. This was Rounin, a science fiction, fantasy series created by Erik Matti. This was followed by Budoy in 2011. Prior to this, big-budget series like Esperanza, Mula sa Puso, Pangako Sa 'Yo, and Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay were shot in 16mm film with a 4:3 aspect ratios while low budget series, on the other hand, were shot in smaller formats. Beginning with Be Careful with My Heart in 2012, all of ABS-CBN's TV series were all produced in high-definition format. Ningning was the first Filipino TV series to be broadcast in HD on October 5, 2015, while Maalaala Mo Kaya was the first mini-series to do so the day before. On the other hand, the first ever locally produced live entertainment program to be broadcast in HD was the musical variety show ASAP on October 4, 2015.

On April 19, 2009, Sony announced the acquisition of ABS-CBN of 24 units of its Sony high-definition professional video cameras through a press release published on Sony's official website.[117] On July 11, 2009, ABS-CBN launched a high definition feed of Balls (now S+A HD) in SkyCable under the name Balls HD, the first local high-definition TV channel in the history of Philippine television. On the same day, Balls HD broadcast the first locally produced coverage of an event in high-definition, the UAAP Season 72 basketball game which was produced by ABS-CBN Sports.[118][119] In addition, two of its three news helicopters are capable of transmitting high-definition live feeds from its 5 axis gimbal HD camera mounted on the aircraft.[120]

On April 20, 2010, Ikegami, a Japanese manufacturer of professional and broadcast television equipment announced the acquisition of ABS-CBN of 75 units of Ikegami high-definition professional video cameras for electronic newsgathering.[121]

Also the same year, ABS-CBN eventually completed its plan to upgrade its studios facilities from SD definition to HD definition for the ad play out. The increasing demand of high-impact HD commercial contents from their clients and audiences pushed ABS-CBN to definitely setting up the ad play out of more than 20 cable TV channels with Etere MTX system. MTX system is used as a quick content player with fast access to all video commercials, able to play multiple formats with no conversion.[122]

On October 3, 2015, ABS-CBN launched a high-definition feed in SkyCable and Destiny Cable under the name ABS-CBN HD. This marked the Philippines' first commercial television network to be launched in high-definition. The said channel will broadcast selected shows of ABS-CBN in a true high-definition picture while the remaining shows will be broadcast in upscaled standard definition picture with pillarbox to preserve its original 4:3 aspect ratio.[123] ABS-CBN HD was also made available on Sky Direct, iWant, and Sky On Demand.

Tapeless[edit]

One of the three Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil news helicopters of ABS-CBN in a hangar in Mactan–Cebu International Airport mounted with a five-axis gimbal HD camera

In 2007, in preparation for digital and high-definition television broadcasting, ABS-CBN acquired server and post production technologies developed by EVS Broadcast Equipment, making ABS-CBN the first broadcaster in Southeast Asia to go tapeless.[119] EVS provided ABS-CBN a 100 percent digital and non-linear editing system and post-production workflow as well as wireless access through a media access management system servers installed in outside broadcasting van. This will be integrated to technologies developed by Avid Technology,[124][125] Snell, and Ruckus Wireless.[126]

Also in March 2012, ABS-CBN has chosen Etere to integrate its production facility for TFC premium channels. The ABS-CBN facility in Quezon City manages 24 channels with 3 different video servers in 3 different formats. ABS-CBN operators use Etere Web to manage uploads, assets, schedules programming, commercial orders, operations logging and much more. Etere Web is a tapeless and paperless solution perfectly integrated with all other Etere solutions to enhance information exchange between ABS-CBN and non-linear editing system.[127]

Digital archiving[edit]

ABS-CBN started digitizing its film and television contents in 2004.[128] Further expansions both locally and globally started in 2008 with the integration of its playlist import. In 2010, ABS-CBN started to replace SeaChange International servers with Harmonic Inc. and Etere managing a multi-server, multi-channel system; they also started the HD playout using the Channel in a box technology of Etere MTX.[129]

In 2007, ABS-CBN acquired a Media Asset Management System (MAMS) from IBM Corporation for a cost of US$4 million.[130] The IBM MAMS includes a hardware infrastructure support and 2 petabytes (2000 terabytes) of data storage that was expected to grow by 36 percent over the next few years as ABS-CBN was already generating over 700 hours of contents a month.[131] The MAMS will be integrated to the million dollar Dalet Digital Media Systems[132] and Avid Unity ISIS (Infinitely Scalable Intelligent Storage)[128][dead link] that will enable ABS-CBN to digitize and store its over 200,000 hours of television contents and its library of over 2000 films.[130] As of 2016, ABS-CBN Film Archives, in partnership with Central Digital Lab, Inc., has digitized, restored, and remastered over 100 films which includes classics such as Himala, Oro, Plata, Mata, and Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?.[133]

Competition[edit]

In 1992, AGB Nielsen Philippines was founded and a new pace in television history was introduced. In 2007, TNS Philippines started to offer media research through Kantar Media Philippines (formerly Kantar/TNS). In 2008, AGB Nielsen Philippines released the all-time highest rating shows in the Philippines, with 7 of the top 10 highest rating shows all from ABS-CBN with the shows like The Battle: Pacquiao vs. Morales, Rosalinda, Esperanza, Meteor Garden, Pangako Sa 'Yo, Miss Universe 1994, and Maria Mercedes.[134]

Controversies and scandals[edit]

Throughout the years, ABS-CBN has been involved in several controversies and scandals involving its talents, employees, and programs.

2004 copyright infringement with GMA[edit]

On July 22, 2004, during the arrival of Angelo de la Cruz at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) (a truck driver who was held hostage and threatened with beheading in Iraq abducted by armed rebels west of Baghdad while trucking fuel from Saudi Arabia), live breaking news coverage was aired on GMA Network and other television stations in the Philippines. GMA Network used audio-video coverage from Reuters, which GMA Network subscribed to.[135] During the said broadcast, a live feed from Reuters was simultaneously aired with its own live broadcast. During the first five-second of the live feed, GMA Network did notice that the live feed from Reuters was also airing at another local station, its main competitor ABS-CBN. The live video was restricted only to ABS-CBN and Reuters did not inform GMA Network that the video coverage was only intended for ABS-CBN. The local Court of Appeals junked the case filed by ABS-CBN Corporation against GMA Network Inc. for what was claimed to be illegal copying of its live video footage. In a ruling, the local fourth division of the appellate court set aside the resolution of the local Justice Department, which approved the filing of the violation of Republic Act 8293 (or the Intellectual Property Code) against GMA Network. It ruled out that the act of GMA Network in airing the live video coverage was focused by good faith since there was no meaning to instigate damage to ABS-CBN Corporation.[136] The local court also said GMA Network acted in good faith when it decided to instantaneously stop using the live video feed from Reuters upon learning ABS-CBN was also covering the said news event and its following exertion to authenticate the ABS-CBN Corporation restriction arrangement with the news service, Reuters. The local court also stressed that apart from lack of intent of GMA Network to affect the video from ABS-CBN, the action also cannot be reflected intrusion of Sections 212.4 and 185.1 of Republic Act 8293 since it was just a short excerpt compared with the totality of the matter.[137]

Wowowee scandals and incidents[edit]

Two major incidents involving ABS-CBN have involved the network's variety show Wowowee. The first incident was a demand for tickets to a one-year anniversary episode of the show at the PhilSports Arena in 2006 caused a deadly stampede killing 76 people.[138] Over a year later in August 2007, the show became entrenched in another scandal involving the possibility of a new game on the show being rigged as evident by a "mechanical glitch" which occurred during an episode,[139] which grew greater after Eat Bulaga! host Joey de Leon and Wowowee host Willie Revillame started exchanging attacks on-air against each other during their respective and competing shows.[140] The incident later led to a probe by the Department of Trade and Industry led by senator Mar Roxas (which was jokingly suggested by Joey during a speech he made on Eat Bulaga! in reference to the Hello Garci scandal, dubbing it "Hello Pappy").[141]

AGB Nielsen TV ratings scandal[edit]

In late 2007, ABS-CBN and GMA Network accused AGB Nielsen Philippines of tampering with the ratings during their 2007 ratings surveys.[142][143] On January 8, 2008, Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) junked ABS-CBN's case against AGB Nielsen, saying it was prematurely filed.

Writ of Amparo[edit]

On January 22, 2008, Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) supported the petition for writ of amparo filed by the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation's 11 employees (led by Ces Oreña-Drilon) with the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of journalists' arrests concerning the failed Manila Peninsula rebellion. It stated: "We support employees from ABS-CBN in standing up for their democratic rights to work free from harassment and intimidation, especially from government officials and authorities." Meanwhile, the Supreme Court required the respondents to file comment to the amparo petition within 10 days. Further, Harry Roque, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)'s lawyer announced its filing of a class lawsuit for injunction with damages (Article 33, New Civil Code of the Philippines) against the Philippine National Police, among others.

ABS-CBN vs. Willing Willie copyright case[edit]

ABS-CBN demanded 127 million pesos from their former reality show star, Willie Revillame, citing copyright infringement due to stark similarities in Revillame's show, Willing Willie on TV5, and ABS-CBN's Wowowee.[144] ABS-CBN listed 5 acts of plagiarism allegedly committed by Willing Willie in their complaint as follows:[144]

  1. Willing Willie's opening song and dance number was similar to that of Wowowee's[144]
  2. "BIGA-Ten" and "Big Time Ka," both segments from the shows involved, bear similar names.[144]
  3. "Willie of Fortune" and "Willtime Bigtime" are segments from both shows which resemble each other.[144] ABS-CBN claimed that Willtime Bigtime resembled its show as it also showcases contestants relaying their personal stories before proceeding to play a singing/trivia game.[144]
  4. April "Congratulations" Gustilo was one of several backup dancers from Wowowee who also appear in Willing Willie.[144]
  5. Other striking similarities ABS-CBN claimed are found in Willing Willie's set design, stage, studio viewers' seats lay-out, lighting angles and camera angles.[144]

A 25-page ruling later on dated May 22, 2015 junked the case against Revillame, declaring it moot.[144] After the Quezon City RTC demanded a 400 million peso bond from Revillame to answer any further damage the network might sustain, it was later discharged.[144] Revillame signed a contract with GMA network two days prior to the ruling, to work on a new show entitled, Wowowin.[144]

2020 franchise renewal controversy[edit]

Since April 2017, ABS-CBN came under fire by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte due to the network refusing to air his 2016 presidential campaign ads in favor of a smear ad paid for by-then vice presidential candidate Antonio Trillanes.[145][146] However, according to the country's Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez, the controversial ad was well within Election Law, under "Partisan Political Activity"[147][148] Duterte publicly stated that he will oppose the 25-year franchise renewal of ABS-CBN; former Laguna governor E.R. Ejercito wholeheartedly supported Duterte's plan.[149][150] Opposition lawmakers as well as labor groups objected to Duterte's stand on ABS-CBN as the franchise non-renewal will compromise the employees of the network; stating that the blocking of the franchise renewal had no merit. Opposition groups also claimed that the non-renewal of the franchise violates press freedom.[151]

Under Philippine law, broadcasting networks requires a congressional franchise (Republic Act) to operate television and radio stations for 25 years; absence of one will lead to suspension of such operations. ABS-CBN's legislative franchise, which was approved by the virtue of Republic Act No. 7966 (granted last March 30, 1995), was set to expire on May 4, 2020 because the franchise will become effective fifteen (15) days after its publication on Official Gazette on April 19, 1995.[152] At least 12 lawmakers has filed their own versions for a new franchise of the network. House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has made assurance that the Congress will tackle the franchise with fairness.[153]

On February 24, 2020, the CEO of the network apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte for not airing his political advertisements during his 2016 polls, which Duterte accepted,[145] and the Congress finally made its decision to tackle their franchise renewal.[154]

During a Senate Hearing on the same day, public services panel chair Grace Poe stated they were to tackle ABS-CBN's compliance with the terms and conditions of its franchise. The conclusion was that there was no breach of laws or franchise terms.[155]

On May 5, 2020, the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order to stop the network's broadcast, including its radio stations DZMM and MOR, following the expiration of its broadcast franchise the day before.[156][157] The cease and desist order covers 42 television stations operated by ABS-CBN across the country, including Channel 2, 10 digital broadcast channels, 18 FM stations, and 5 AM stations.[158]

The network subsequently signed off following the airing of news program TV Patrol. Along with the order, NTC wanted to recall ABS-CBN's assigned frequencies.[159] ABS-CBN explained that it would not be in public interest to have the frequencies recalled, as this would hinder their ability to immediately restart broadcasts in the event a new franchise was granted.[160] Additionally, there were fresh measures in the Congress to grant provisional franchise,[160] which later rolled into a series of hearings to grant a fresh 25-year franchise.[161][162] NTC was told to refrain from carrying out the recall by the Congress.[162] On July 10, 2020, members of the House of Representatives, voted 70–11 to deny the franchise application of ABS-CBN, citing several issues on the network's franchise.[163][164] According to a survey released by the Social Weather Stations or SWS, released following the rejection of the network's franchise renewal, showed that majority (75%) of Filipinos want the network back.[54]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kapamilya is a Filipino term for a family member.

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