Exactly one month has passed since the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered the closure of ABS-CBN. While the network is still fighting for its franchise renewal in Congress, what has happened to ABS-CBN in the past month since its shutdown?
On May 5, 2020, NTC issued a cease and desist order to ABS-CBN, which immediately closed its broadcasting operations, including its radio stations DZMM, its television counterpart DZMM TeleRadyo, and MOR.
It covered 42 television stations operated by ABS-CBN across the country, including the ABS-CBN Network, ABS-CBN Sports and Action, 10 digital broadcast channels, 18 FM stations, and 5 AM stations.
However, this did not stop ABS-CBN from carrying out and fulfilling its mission for the service of the Filipino people, but rather it chose to change its way of delivering media-related services across the country. ABS-CBN returned to the air on May 8, 2020, three days after its forced shutdown by airing on their various social media platforms.
On Facebook, the newscast stream crossed almost 8 million views in a matter of hours. Its concurrent viewers, or the number of people watching at the same time, had as high as 218,000.
TV Patrol (7 May 2020)
Posted by ABS-CBN News on Thursday, May 7, 2020
Besides content on ABS-CBN’s streaming service iWant, whose content is developed similar to conventional TV and film titles, ABS-CBN released OKS, a series of digital originals ranging from talk shows to virtual drama.
Last May 14, the lower house finally started deliberations on the 11 pending bills at the Committee on Legislative Franchises.
According to House Speaker Alan Cayetano, “Because of all this divisiveness and after consulting with the members of the House, the political parties, and the regional groups… I, together with the House of Representatives leadership have decided to forego with the provisional franchise, and immediately proceed with the hearings for the full 25-year renewal application of the ABS-CBN franchise.”
To date, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises has held four hearings on the bills granting ABS-CBN a new franchise, the last three being joint hearings with the Committee on Good Government and Public Accounts.
As a result of this closure, ABS-CBN has announced that it is losing millions by the day it does not broadcast on air. In a tweet from ABS-CBN News via Tarra Quismundo, ABS-CBN News Head of Ging Reyes said the network is losing 35 million per day since it stopped broadcasting on Tuesday, May 5.
— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) May 8, 2020
The giant media network may have lost approximately 1,050,000,000 pesos in the one month it has been off the air.
“We continue to lose a substantial amount of money every month your honor, and I’m afraid that if we can’t get back on air soon, by August we may already have to consider beginning a retrenchment process your honor,” ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak said during a hearing.
Many think that ABS-CBN is being singled out by politicians with an ax to grind against the network because other networks whose franchises had expired were still allowed to operate.
The NTC also made a promise to allow the media giant to continue operations until 2022, but this promise was broken as the agency violated its own memo posted on its official website on March 19, 2020.