[WARNING: The author is not a hater of the media entity in hot water. With apologies to fanatics of this particular network but let’s face it, no media entity is perfect or sacred; every network has its flaws and successes. Please read at your own risk.]
IN the opening salvo almost two weeks ago, this year is the most crucial moment in the Philippine media industry; this is the year ABS-CBN is facing a make-or-break situation — the franchise renewal is at stake.
Six days from now, Congress will resume its plenary session and the bills regarding their franchise renewal are in the bind. Some solons like Laguna Representative Sol Aragones — who was a reporter of her previous employer — wanted to put this bill as urgent and priority before March 30 strikes.
For the past three years, President Rodrigo Duterte constantly objected for their renewal by playing different mind games. Recently, he wanted the network to be sold to his business friend Dennis Uy, the Villars or Manny V. Pangilinan — despite a mix of denials and interests — in order to dilute the Lopezes out of boardroom control anew. In a nutshell, as Ryan Ortega opined, these acts seem to generate “terrible optics.”
While media professionals and enthusiasts generally saw Mother Ignacia’s success in ratings and in business strategy, not everyone is pleased (and it’s not simply because they are hardcore loyalists from Kamuning).
What if the then-fringe, now-significant hardcore supporters of this administration got what they wished for — shutting ABS-CBN down for good or for at least, two years — despite little or no effect or even silence from both the telecommunications authority and their broadcasting associate for their non-renewal.
But before we answer that big question, we will delve into why that particular hate on the network grew and how did the network fare out for the past 10 years.
When did all the hate begin?
It all began after Cory Aquino’s funeral. MMK aired the two-part story of the couple on what would have been the former beloved President’s 77th birthday in January 2010.
Due to the airing, netizens criticized the airing as an indirect platform for their unico hijo, Noynoy Aquino to victory in the polls. At that time, certain personalities were active in the network during the period like Korina Sanchez (spouse of his running mate Mar Roxas) and obviously, her sister, Kris. However, not all personalities in the network endorsed him such as Willie Revillame and Dolphy who endorsed Manny Villar.
When Noynoy won the Presidency at the inaugural automated elections, Ricky Carandang and Manuel L. Quezon III from ANC became part of the Palace’s communications team. (The latter was responsible for making the Official Gazette in touch and informative with social media.) Thus, the weekly anthology series every Saturday became a tool to propel certain candidates into victory.
The year after (2011), a YouTube creator named PinoyMonkeyPride published a series of animated videos repeating buzzwords against the network as it was owned by “oligarchs” and their story “biased” in favor of the then sitting administration. It may have paved the way for netizens’ inspiration to create their fan pages and blog sites to hate the then-President and its actions wholeheartedly. Their accusations, however, were a mix of truths and baseless claims; it did not pay much attention in the general social media news feed but it escalated as the next presidential election approaches.
During the last days of the election campaign in 2016, this particular network aired attack ads against two candidates in two separate positions. One of them was paid by then-Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (who ran for Vice President but eventually placed dead last) attacking then-Davao City mayor. The other ad is by then-Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares (who at that time ran for Senator for the first time) who attacked against then-Senator Bongbong Marcos (wherein the latter ran but almost won the vice presidency).
After the clear and vindicated victory, the new President persistently made sporadic accusations against the network — from taking unauthorized loans from the Development Bank of the Philippines, unpaid ads and unpaid taxes despite being not true in their annual reports. These soundbites have been relayed over the cyberspace, without fact-checking and hearing the other side, and simply accepted them as gospel truth.
ABS-CBN in the 2010s
Casting aside the political colors, the 2010s on ABS-CBN made significant differences in their programming operations.
Through cunning exploitation of absolute advantage, this network broadcast their acquired international franchises of competition shows and freely create their deviations for teens and kids like The Voice and Your Face Sounds Familiar, just to name a few.
As reality competition shows became all the rage and expanded back-to-back on weekend primetime, it pushed game shows obsolete. Regardless of that trade-off, those shows have repetitively been hosted in circles by what the Turf called, the Trinity: Luis Manzano, Billy Crawford and/or Robi Domingo. Speaking of game shows, their selection of players shifted to exclusive, non-committed stars in order to avoid defection to another network. (which became the Turf‘s first breaking point) Nonetheless, both types of shows have injected some comic relief for ratings.
Vice Ganda became the face of the network in the past decade as we see him every day of the week — at least, on It’s Showtime and on Gandang Gabi Vice (sometimes, he performs on ASAP). His incorrigible, panlalait style of comedy has influenced his co-equals with their fans continuing to tolerate him. In the late part of the decade, his jockeying antics on their live noontime show continued without a sense of time (which became another turning point).
Throughout the past 10 years, this network was responsible for boosting up the “love team manufacturing and enhancing” industry. From their conception at Pinoy Big Brother, they ventured out into drama and anthology and without a doubt, it was successful. It’s no wonder that the reboot of Wansapanataym lost its zeitgeist as a fantasy anthology with moral lessons like the first incarnation into a springboard of kalandian. (Thank goodness, they ended it last September.)
With unified MTRCB ratings fully implemented since 2011, their network’s teleseryes were mostly classified into the SPG territory. The starting times of teleseryes every weekday shifted to pre-noontime since 2012, beginning with Be Careful with My Heart.
In 2013, during their 60th anniversary, they forge a deal with CJ ENM to broadcast O Shopping as an overnight blocktimer. It almost fills up ABS-CBN’s round-the-clock schedule except on Tuesday.
In 2014, Studio 23 became ABS-CBN Sports + Action (later shortened as S+A). In the same year, late-night newscast Bandila reported a mysterious flesh-eating disease in Pangasinan, which turned out to be false.
In 2015, their encrypted set-top box, ABS-CBN TVplus was introduced in the market and were sold hot like hotcakes; as of this publication, it sold 8.9 million units and just last year, they launch their mobile version, TVPlus Go, for commuters. On that same year, Boy Abunda’s The Buzz pulled the plug — putting an end of an era for weekend afternoon showbiz scoops. Meanwhile, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano premiered and still is the successful teleserye in weekday primetime.
The following year (2016), another TV program genre was put into the dustbins of history as Luv U was the last teen-oriented program to broadcast. Children’s programming (including cartoons and anime) was downgraded into one meager slot on free TV every Sunday morning as the rest were migrated to Yey! (their exclusive digital sub-channel)
In 2019, after 14 years, kiddie-casted sketch comedy show Goin’ Bulilit pulled the plug.
Because of the trend of cord-cutters — wherein cable subscription is dropped in favor of cheaper or reasonable pricing of the promised offerings on video-on-demand platforms — ABS-CBN discontinued these cable channels within the decade: ABS-CBN Regional Channel, Balls (replaced with Liga), CgeTV, Hero (became a Web portal), Lifestyle (became Metro Channel), Tag (in favor of Cine Mo! and Movie Central) and Velvet.
In 2013, the network unified the FM branding as My Only Radio (M.O.R.).
ABS-CBNmobile, their exclusive mobile service provider, did not last that long; the service ran from 2013 to 2018.
If we were to step into their shoes, what will happen if ABS-CBN’s core broadcasting operations suddenly gone? Will their competitors replicate the success of all or certain aspects of Mother Ignacia? That will be discussed further in Part 2.