ABS-CBN moves news broadcast online

SILENT PROTEST. Employees and members of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines light candles in front of the headquarters of ABS-CBN Corp in Quezon City on Tuesday, May 5. The National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order against the broadcast network even if it said previously that it would issue provisional authority to allow ABS-CBN to operate until June 2022 while Congress deliberates on its franchise renewal. | Philstar.com photo by Miguel De Guzman

Broadcast giant ABS-CBN announced that its flagship evening news program “TV Patrol” would resume delivering the news through its digital platform.

The shift came two days after the network was forced to go off-air following the cease-and-desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission.

“TV Patrol” on Thursday, May 7 was broadcasted on ABS-CBN News’ official website and pages on Facebook and YouTube, ANC, and the streaming service iWant. It also aired live via The Filipino Channel for overseas Filipinos.

According to ABS-CBN News, the newscast’s stream reached 7.5 million views on Facebook within hours. Its concurrent viewers, or the number of people watching at the same time, peaked at around 218,000.

Meanwhile, its livestream on Youtube garnered over 73,000 peak concurrents, with a total of 720,000 playbacks.

Since ABS-CBN’s shut down, netizens, popular personalities, and officials alike have expressed their disappointment over the loss of the country’s largest television network.

Urban Poor Action Committee pointed out that millions of Filipinos don’t have the luxury to tune in to the network’s online platform due to lack of internet connections and gadgets.

“Sa isang iglap, mistulang ninakawan ang mga ordinaryong Pilipino — lalo na kaming mga maralitang tagalungsod na karamihan ay walang akses sa internet — ng mapagkukunan ng balita, impormasyon at libreng libangan na napakahalaga lalo na ngayong panahon ng enhanced community quarantine (In a snap, it seems that ordinary Filipinos — especially urban poor communities without access to internet — have been robbed of a source of news, information and entertainment especially when enhanced community quarantine is enforced),” it said in a statement.

A netizen — John from the province of Rizal — also expressed his concern for the Filipinos who don’t have the means to turn to online for entertainment and news.

“To be honest, I don’t personally watch TV. I catch up with news via online news sites such as ABS-CBN’s online portal and thankfully, it continues to report to and for Filipinos even after the unfortunate cease-and-desist order. However, I find it worrying — to say the least — that accurate information, which plays a huge part during this pandemic, won’t reach those whose only source is ABS-CBN’s channel,” he said.

He added, “We all know not everyone has the access to the internet and even the aforementioned channel’s competitors. So even though the shutdown won’t directly affect my access to news and entertainment, I find it difficult to accept that many people will suffer from the difficulties of distinguishing what’s real news and what’s fake.”

An avid ABS-CBN viewer also expressed disappointment over the shutdown.
“Malaki yung epekto ng pagkawala ng ABS-CBN kasi wala na yung mga naka-schedule na pinapanood ko ngayon. Kailangan ko pa maghanap ng ibang paraan para makanood ng balita at magpalipas oras habang nasa quarantine (ABS-CBN’s shutdown has a huge effect because the shows I regularly watch are now gone. I need to find other ways to watch the news and pass the time while in quarantine),” Niel from Taguig City said.

Celebrities also reacted to the network’s shutdown across different social media platforms.

“Hindi na ako uupo at mananahimik (I will no longer sit in silence). I grieve the (temporary) death of my home station, but it won’t keep me from joining the fight,” said actress Angel Aquino.

“Mahirap magsawalang-kibo sa mga taong katulad ninyo na patuloy na nang-aabuso (It’s hard not to react to people like you who continue to commit abuses). Wala kayong mga konsensiya, naatim niyong pagkaitan ng hanapbuhay at pabayaang magutom ang ilang libong mga pamilya (You have no conscience, you deprive people of their jobs and leave thousands of families starving),” Kapamilya actor Coco Martin posted on Instagram.

Actress Angel Locsin noted “Sa panahon na kailangan ng hanap-buhay ng mga tao (In this time when people need jobs), let’s be considerate and ask ourselves kung makakatulong ba ang mga desisyon natin lalo na sa panahong ito (if our decisions will help in these trying times).

Sharon Cuneta for her part chimed in, by saying,“ Iniisip at inaalala naming artists ng aming tahanan, ang ABS-CBN, ang ilampung-libong empleyadong lumaki nang kasama ko, at ang mga batang bagong empleyado pa lamang ng aming istasyon (ABS-CBN’s artists are thinking and worrying over the thousands of employees who grew with me, and also the new employees of our station).”

“You are all in my heart and prayers,” she added.

GMA-7 star Dingdong Dantes, meanwhile, said: “Magkaiba man ng bakod (Despite working in different stations), we are one in the media industry. We have one love for the many talents and crafts under this network, the products and output of which, directly or indirectly, benefit the lives of millions of Filipinos.”

Several senators also filed a resolution urging NTC to reconsider its cease and desist order against ABS-CBN.

The group of lawmakers also urged the NTC to allow ABS-CBN, as well as its subsidiaries and affiliates, to continue operations pending the disposition of its franchise renewal.

“Now more than ever, in the middle of the biggest public health crisis of our generation, the Filipino people deserve access to up-to-date news provided by a free and unfettered media, and multiple sources of information provide the best pathways for truth to emerge,” the senators said.

Vice President Leni Robredo said shutting down ABS-CBN will “cost lives.”

“In this time of crisis, we are relying on free flow of accurate and timely information to give shape and direction to our actions,” she said in Filipino.

She added, “This free flow of information literally saves lives. Closing down ABS-CBN costs lives on top of unnecessarily burdening the thousands who will lose their jobs.”

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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