Cameraman Angelo Valderrama
How abs-cbn shutdown deprives Filipinos of news and entertainment
KAPAMILYA DAY - Kane Errol Choa (The Philippine Star) - May 23, 2020 - 12:00am

ABS-CBN News cameraman Angelo Valderrama showed his IATF ID upon reaching the checkpoint in Rizal and Laguna. Yet, the police officer stopped and signaled them to roll down the windows.

It turned out that the police wanted to ask when ABS-CBN would be operating again. He told the police that they were airing on SkyCable and Facebook Live.

The police then replied, “Walang mapanood ang mga anak ko, sa antenna lang sumasagap ng signal ang TV namin, wala kaming cable at internet. Yung anak ko nalulungkot, hindi makapanuod sa ABS-CBN.”

Angelo was left heartbroken and speechless, according to his post on Facebook. He did not know what to say to comfort the police.

Broadcast journalist Jeff Canoy

Broadcast journalist Jeff Canoy had a similar experience. He and his team were on their way to Aurora to do coverage of typhoon Ambo when police officers stopped them at a checkpoint.

In his Facebook post that had gone viral and been reported in the media, Jeff recalled the police officer asking him if he was the TV reporter who covers typhoons.

“Babalik na ba kayo, sir?” the police asked.

“Sir, papunta pa lang ako Aurora.”

“Hindi sir. ‘Yung ABS, babalik na ba?”

Jeff told the police that he could watch the news on Facebook and hoped that ABS-CBN would soon go back on-air.

“ABS lang ang malakas ang signal dito. May bagyo ngayon, di namin malaman kung ano ang nangyayari. Sana makabalik na kayo sir. Hintayin namin balita mo sa bagyo sir. Ingat parati,” the police said.

News and entertainment are among the things that many Filipinos need, especially these days when the country is facing a pandemic and people are asked to stay home. And for millions of Filipinos, especially those who live in remote areas and rely heavily on ABS-CBN shows for relief, joy, inspiration and information, the shutdown of the network has left them in the dark.

ABS-CBN executives at the Senate hearing

On May 5, the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order for ABS-CBN to stop broadcasting immediately. The network complied.

The order meant that ABS-CBN had to go off-air on all its 42 TV stations, 10 DTT stations, 5 AM stations and 18 FM stations nationwide, according to ABS-CBN general counsel, lawyer Mario Bautista, at the recent Senate hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

Residents in Metro Manila or urban areas may be fortunate to have access to better internet broadband services and more online sources for entertainment and news. The reality is that television remains the top source of news for 60 percent of Filipino adults or 40 million individuals, according to an SWS survey conducted in the first quarter of 2019.

Various groups and organizations have come out with statements of support for ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

There are 11 bills filed in the House of Representatives for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise for another 25 years. While the House initially passed on second reading a newly filed bill last week to grant ABS-CBN a franchise to operate until October, it had decided to drop it and opted to conduct hearings on the bills for a 25-year franchise.

Many viewers like the police officers encountered by Angelo and Jeff, families, mothers and children hope ABS-CBN can go back on-air again soon. ABS-CBN has always maintained that it looks forward to participating in the franchise renewal process and continue serving the Filipino people through news, entertainment and public service.

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