Members of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises are expected to cast their vote on ABS-CBN’s fate this Friday (July 10) and it is not just the network who is bound to lose big should the franchise bid fails to get majority votes.
Millions of Filipinos are also at the losing end in this battle to permanently shut down the leading media network in the Philippines.
Here’s a rundown of what the country and its people will endure should “no votes” prevail on the House:
1. 70M viewers losing their preferred source of news, information, and entertainment for good
About 70 million viewers tuned in on ABS-CBN every week while it was still on air and these viewers, including those living in far-flung areas of the country, lost their favored source of news and information and also their valued ‘libangan’ for decades.
To some who have other choices, this may not seem significant, but for those who are left with no other option but free TV, it’s taking away a big part of their family’s viewing experience which they have relied onto for decades.
2. Government foregoing billions worth of expected tax contributions
ABS-CBN had paid over Php 71 billion in taxes from 2003 to 2019 and the country will lose billions of future tax contributions should ABS-CBN’s bread and butter—its broadcasting business—winds down operations permanently.
These billions of taxes that contribute to the national budget will be sacrificed, funds which could otherwise be used in government’s relief efforts and nation building.
3. 11,071 workers in danger of losing their jobs amid today’s pandemic
ABS-CBN’s lack of franchise will lead to the retrenchment of thousands of its workers, painfully adding to the massive unemployment the Philippines has already been enduring this year because of the pandemic crisis.
“Kapag nagsara itong ABS-CBN, this is unemployment resulting not from the pandemic. This is unemployment resulting from refusal to renew or grant a franchise,” Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Lawrence Fortun said.
4. Proven vehicle for distance learning thrown into the fire
ABS-CBN’s educational platform Knowledge Channel already has video format of about 50% of DepEd’s most essential learning competencies (MELC) based on K to 12 curriculum. It can likewise easily develop the remaining 50% in support of the government’s shift to distance learning.
The platform is all ready to serve up to 7.6 million Filipino students this coming school year, yet all its content will be put to waste if the new franchise is not granted.
5. Shutting the door on Filipino artists’ creative playground
ABS-CBN has always put Filipino talents in the spotlight through its variety shows and reality competitions, even showcasing them as the country’s pride to the global stage. These artists are about to lose projects that have catapulted them to achieve their dreams and give joy to their followers.
“The joy these projects bring to the kababayans worldwide brings unquantifiable pride to us managers and artists to be part of the top quality programs produced by ABS-CBN. It is in our prayers that we will be allowed to keep on doing what we truly and passionately love to do,” Professional Artists Managers Inc. (PAMI) president June Rufino said.
6. Disrupting the virtual connection of overseas Pinoys to their homeland
The Filipino Channel will likely struggle to sustain its Pinoy subscribers overseas since most of its offerings are locally produced content of ABS-CBN. Overseas Filipinos will lose access to the programs that have kept them informed and entertained and have made them feel closer to their homeland over the years.
7. Advertising channels to reach consumers diminished
“ABS-CBN’s mainstream platforms are important advertising channels for many of our members to reach and serve their audiences, and their closure… ultimately negatively impacts the millions of Filipino consumers who our member companies servie,” – said the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA) in a statement.
Jun Nicdao, president of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), also shared in an article how shortage of ad inventory affects the decision-making of today’s Filipino consumers. “Since market studies show that up to 90 percent of consumers rely on TV and almost 60% on radio for relevant information before making purchase decisions, it is easy to see why there is no comparable substitute for broadcast airtime when it comes to reaching and convincing the largest target audience base.”
8. Impairing established public service programs
While ABS-CBN Foundation is an independent organization, ABS-CBN has always been its first responder during calamities for more than three decades, donating funds and bridging Filipinos for its various programs—Bantay Bata, Bantay Kalikasan, and Sagip Kapamilya.
Without ABS-CBN’s subsidy for the foundation, these public services may be discontinued at the expense of its many beneficiaries.
9. Death of the pioneer in Philippine television
The non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise will go down in history as the end of an era to the pioneer of Philippine broadcasting, the catalyst of color television, and the forerunner in cable TV and digital terrestrial television, which has brought Pinoys to better and clearer television viewing for the last six decades.