- Butch Franciso says that ABS-CBN will not stop operating
- ABS-CBN has new projects lined up for employees
Butch Francisco, the founder of Francisco Study Center and founding chairman of Francisco Center for Social Change FCSC Foundation, wrote an article saying that ABS-CBN’s legacy and activities will go on, with or without the franchise renewal.
Butch said that there is no question that ABS-CBN is worried about its franchise renewal, but the company is focusing more on other aspects and on work.
“Sure, they talk about the possibility of the network losing its franchise from time to time. However, that issue doesn’t necessarily consume them 24 hours a day. What they discuss mostly among themselves is still work-related.”
Employees are also looking forward to being involved in other projects and are more focused on getting roles, especially those who are seen on television.
ABS-CBN also has a new studio located in San Jose Del Monte which is nearly 8 hectares in size. The technical team of the company is currently working on this.
The reality talent competition Your Moment also had their episodes shot there. The next project of Star Cinema will also be using the studio to film. The new studio is comparable to those that one can find in Hollywood. Foreign film companies have also shown interest in using and renting the studio but President Carlo Katigbak said that it isn’t the right time yet, but it is very possible.
“The two studios are of Hollywood standards – with high ceilings and measuring 1,500 square meters each. So far, there are already inquiries from American film companies that regularly shoot here in the Philippines about the possibility of renting the new ABS-CBN studio facilities. ABS-CBN president Carlo Katigbak, however, isn’t open to the idea. At least, not yet.'”
The company is also working on building 10 new sound stages, and the technical team is also being trained to handle the many kinds of facilities. One problem that employees might face is the time of travel to get to the new studio.
“There are also those who dread the commute to the new studios, which may take an hour to reach from Quezon City – on a day without traffic, that is.”
It can be very tedious to get to the studio, especially for those who do not have their own vehicles. But there are plans to make traveling more convenient for these people.
“Those who do not have vehicles, but are required to do chores there are forced to take the shuttle from SM San Jose. But there are ongoing talks with the Ayalas for them to devote an MRT station there for the convenience of the ABS-CBN employees.”
Even if the franchise isn’t renewed, ABS-CBN is still optimistic because people can still watch their favorite shows on cable and social media, but this doesn’t mean that the company isn’t worried.
“In case, the ABS-CBN franchise doesn’t get renewed, all that the network is losing is just its frequency. Its regular viewers will not see It’s Showtime and FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano anymore on Channel 2. Likewise with the listeners of the radio stations DZMM and MOR. But they can still watch their favorite Kapamilya shows in other ABS-CBN platforms – like cable, I Want and The Filipino Channel abroad. And lest we forget – there’s always Facebook.”
Another reason for this optimistic mindset is that analytics show that only 60% of the population watch TV, since people would rather go online and stream. This number is also expected to go down in the near future so TV would most likely be obsolete. The company was already preparing for when television starts dying, but the threat of their contract not getting renewed is at a bad timing since other ways of viewing their shows are not that popular yet.
“Even before the threat of franchise cancellation came around, ABS-CBN was already preparing to get into other platforms since its executives had long been aware of the possibility of regular television going extinct. It’s just unfortunate that the threat of franchise cancellation came at a time when the other platforms aren’t exactly profitable yet.”
Butch said that employees losing their jobs will be inevitable, but the company will need people to handle the other platforms. These people will expect to have lower salaries but will see adjustment when things will go the right way.
The Lopez family isn’t that worried about this problem since they have other businesses that generate a lot of income.
When Martial Law was introduced back in 1972, ABS-CBN also went away, but came right back after 14 years and remained a powerhouse in the broadcasting aspect of things.
During the 1960s, the Lopez family built the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City.
The facilities and studio were up to standards, plus ABS-CBN became the first network to air in full color.
The company opened a second station called Channel 4 to monopolize the broadcasting business in the country.
“Every day at 6 p.m. for example, ABS-CBN Channel 2 aired the variety show On With the Show with Mitch Valdes, Maritess Revilla, and Manolo Favis. In the very same time slot, ABS-CBN Channel 4 also aired a program with a similar format–The Wow Generation with Baby O’Brien.”
The company then saw success and had more viewers compared to the other channels. But all of this went down the drain because of then-President Ferdinand Marcos.
“That also proved to be cost-efficient: The on-cam talents shared one dressing room and had the same team of makeup artists. After they were all dolled-up, they went to their respective studios that were just across each to make more money for ABS-CBN. But all that ended when Marcos shut down ABS-CBN.”
The Lopez family have always been risk-takers. One good example of this was when they bought the coverage rights to the Barcelona Olympics back in 1992 then did the same two years later with the Miss Universe. They lost a lot of money but did not care because it helped the company’s reputation.
“Even during the post-EDSA I ABS-CBN, the Lopezes continued taking risks. Putting up TFC was a gamble for one. But that later paid off handsomely. In 1992, it bought the exclusive coverage rights to the Barcelona Olympics. Two years later, the network handled the Miss Universe show in Manila. Those were costly projects. ABS-CBN, however, wanted the prestige. That sure added luster to the company’s image.”
ABS-CBN also took over the coverage of Binibining Pilipinas from GMA and saw success, instead of losing money.
“GMA operates differently. From 1998 till 2010, for instance, it aired the Binibining Pilipinas pageant. If you go by the math, any network airing a special event is bound to lose money because its programs are preempted and regular advertising income is lost. The network, however, doesn’t go to the poorhouse because of that. At most, only a night’s income is sacrificed. When GMA gave up Binibining Pilipinas in spite of Venus Raj’s fourth-place win at Miss Universe, ABS-CBN gladly took the pageant in and got lucky: All the Philippine bets after Venus did impressively at the international beauty congress and became news-makers.”
ABS-CBN was then able to capitalize on the success of those beauty pageants, and GMA wasn’t able to do anything because these women were exclusive to the former.
“GMA was unable to get hold of any of those girls because they were only exclusive to ABS-CBN. Jessica Soho actually had to fly to New York to corner Pia Wurtzbach. ABS-CBN, on the other hand, was able to bleed each one of those beauty queens for all they were worth. Oh, how those girls brought in the ratings because – as they say – everybody loves a winner.”
Butch then says that there is no need to lose sleep over this, the Lopez family knows how to execute the right moves, and have proven so ever since the company was established.
“Perhaps that was one of the reasons why GMA slid down to No. 2 sometime in 2014 after lording it over in Philippine television beginning in late 2003. And so – for those worried about ABS-CBN losing its franchise, there’s no need to panic. Trust ABS-CBN to know how to play its cards right.”