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ABS-CBN shutdown: A Deeper Look on its Impact

From 23%-24% viewership, it plummeted to 13.8%-10% after ABS-CBN’s shut down.

The effects of ABS-CBN’s shutdown are not just about how its 11,000 and more employees lost their livelihood amid the pandemic, it is more than that.

On Friday, July 9, ABS-CBN and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) discussed how deep the impact of the rejection of the Network’s franchise.

Even before the discussion, Jacque Manabat, one of the event’s hosts, shared the immediate effects of ABS-CBN’s shutdown.

“Ito malapit sa puso ko, Mike. Kasi galing akong RNG (Regional News Group), d’yan ako nagsimula. RNG Baguio, RNG Dagupan, tapos nag-current affairs ako, bago ako pumasok sa news department.

“So lahat nang pinanggalingan ko, regional network group at maging ang current affairs, lahat ng yan, nag-off air kasabay ng pagpatay ng ating prangkisa,” shared Manabat.

Present in the online open forum were Jon Villanueva of the ABS-CBN Rank and File Employee’s Union, Christian Lloyd Magsoy of Defend Jobs Philippines, Leody De Guzman of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, journalist Margarita Valle, columnist John Nery, and Rommel Lopez of PressONE.ph.

Kapamilya employees struggle to make ends meet.

After ABS-CBN shut down in May 2020, it struggled to keep afloat during the pandemic. Its employees, however, were the most affected since it is their source of livelihood.

According to Villanueva, after the closure of the Network, those retrenched Kapamilya employees lived different lives, with some still unable to find work due to the pandemic.

“Marami sa kanila ang hindi pa rin nakakahanap ng bagong trabaho. Katunayan, ang iba. ang laki ng nagbago sa buhay nila. Para maka-survive, yung iba pumasok sa food deliveries, yung iba nagtayo ng karinderya, iba naging panadero. Ibang-iba sa ginagawa nilang trabaho dati dito sa ABS-CBN,” revealed Villanueva.

Villanueva also added that the loss of ABS-CBN’s franchise also resulted in their workers losing healthcare benefits, especially during this pandemic. 

Villanueva noted that they needed to secure their health but the Government did not give them the chance.

“Malaking tulong sana yung health benefits natin sa kumpanya. Dahil tulad ngayon na panahon ng pandemya, mas kailangang kailangan natin ang seguridad sa kalusugan.”

But if the Government did not offer any assistance to the retrenched employees, ABS-CBN shouldered their expenses by extending its employees’ benefits up until December 2020.

“Nagpapasalamat din naman kami sa pamunuan ng ABS-CBN kasi at least in-extend nila ang benepisyo na ‘yon hanggang December 2020 kahit September na-retrench na yung mga tao,” he added.

Multiplier effect.

Magsoy of Defend Jobs Philippines focused on the ‘multiplier effect’ of the shutdown. According to him, the multiplier effect of the closure also affected Network’s employees’ families as well as the businesses that are reliant on the media giant.

“Hindi lang ito sa manggagawa ng ABS-CBN. Halimbawa, ‘yung 11,000 plus na manggagawa natin, meron tayong tinatawag na multiplier effect. Automatic diyan, apektado ang kanilang mga pamilya.”

“Marami ring businesses ang reliant sa ABS-CBN. Nandiyan ang outsourcing, mga advertising reliant businesses, mga micro, small, and medium enterprises na mga food and services accommodations,” he added.

Moreover, it also affected small vendors who had set up shops and stalls around the ABS-CBN compound.

“Kahit simpleng mga vendors na hindi lang sa paligid ng ABS-CBN kundi sa regional TV and radio stations, sa buong bansa, affected din sila. Yung mga maliliit na negosyo at kahit mismo ang mga manggagawa nila ay apektado dahil nag-shutdown ang ABS-CBN,” he continued.

Although there are some instances that businesses greatly affected by the Network’s shutdown close down, most of them usually lost a huge part of their income as they are dependent on ABS-CBN.

“So wala ng ibang mga negosyo, yung iba siguro nagsara, pero kadalasan bumaba ang kita ng mga negosyo na merong direktang kinalaman sa buong operation ng ABS-CBN. So hindi lang ito 11,000 na manggagawa ang naapektuhan.”

The Unemployment rate jumped to a Record High.

The pandemic posed a lot of problems to Filipinos and across the globe. According to De Guzman of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, the Philippines recorded an unemployment rate of 17.3%, the first in the history of the country.

But this is not just because of the pandemic, ABS-CBN’s shutdown also has played a huge part in it. Almost 55,000 workers were deprived of their livelihood because the network booted off the air.

Furthermore, the most heart-wrenching decision of the Government, according to De Guzman was, “Sa halip na ang gobyerno ay humakbang para angkatin ang epekto ng pandemya sa unemployment, eh naging bahagi pa s’ya sa pagpaparami ng manggagawa na walang trabaho.”

To add, the chair of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino ascertains that workers, on the upcoming election, will have a score to settle with the Administration.

“At alam ko hindi dito natatapos. Next year, sa darating na eleksyon, tingin ko may paniningil ang mga manggagawa sa gobyernong ito,” he claimed.

Lost Audience.

ABS-CBN’s shutdown resulted in a huge part of Filipino viewers turning off their televisions, as per a survey conducted by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).

Ruperto Nicdao, president of KBP said that television ratings were higher when people can still watch ABS-CBN shows on free TV.

From 23%-24% viewership, it plummeted to 13.8%-10% after ABS-CBN’s shut down.

This is what columnist John Nery was pointing to as a huge impact of the Network’s shutdown—lost audience.

“Yung idea na lost audience, kasi hindi lang sa loyalty, katulad nung example sa Cantanduanes, wala na silang makuha (information). Hindi nila makuha yung DZMM or yung ABS-CBN. So yung ganung klaseng impact, dun ako nagulat. Hindi ko alam na ganoon pala kalaki ang naging impact,” said Nery.

The columnist even considered this effect as a “freezing effect.”

“Nung sinara yung ABS, hindi lang ito chilling effect sa free press eh, freezing effect. Kasi madami na ang takot. Kung kaya gawin sa ABS-CBN, what more the others,” he added.

Nery was concerned most about the lost audience since ABS-CBN has the widest reach among other networks before its closure. He pointed that the Network now that it’s off the air, resulted in an information gap for the public.

“Yung lost audience, yun talaga ang nakakabahala. So how do they access the necessary information kung walang ABS-CBN, walang papalit. Yun ang masaklap.” 

Media platforms are ‘scared’.

One of the largest networks in the Philippines got shut down by the current regime. This is a looming concern for other news and publication outlets.

Rommel Lopez of PressONE.ph, an independent media, described what happened to ABS-CBN as the government’s way of “weaponizing” franchises. More than that, it also caused journalism to be more “timid” due to concern of getting shut down.

“What happened to ABS-CBN is really historic because it weaponized broadcasting franchises. I think it opened to new possibilities. Tamed ngayon ang media to be very probing.

“And I think in some ways, naging timid na ang investigative journalism kasi matatakot yung media network especially yung kanilang owners ay may mga business practices na maaaring magamit against them in the future,” said Lopez.

Journalist Margarita Valle likewise said: “Mahirap sa ngayon. Dahil obvious naman talaga na mas pinipili pang manahimik kaysa i-pursue kung ano ang dapat.”



Other than the mentioned speakers, Atty. Ted Te was also present at the online discussion along with Bayan Muna Rep. Kaloy Zarate.

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