ABS-CBN (TV network)

ABS-CBN (an initialism of the network's former names, Alto Broadcasting System - Chronicle Broadcasting Network) is a Philippine free-to-air television network that is the flagship property of ABS-CBN Corporation, a company under the Lopez Group. The network is headquartered at the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center in Quezon City, with additional offices and production facilities in 25 major cities including Baguio, Naga, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cebu, and Davao. ABS-CBN is formally referred to as "The Kapamilya Network"; kapamilya is a Filipino term which means a member of a family. This was originally introduced in 1999 and was officially introduced in 2003 during the celebration of its 50th anniversary. It is the largest television network in the country in terms of revenues, assets, and international coverage.

TypeTerrestrial television network
BrandingThe Kapamilya Network (Kapamilya is a Filipino term for a family member)
FoundedOctober 23, 1953 (1953-10-23)
by James Lindenberg
Antonio Quirino
Eugenio Lopez, Sr.
Fernando Lopez
Slogan"In the service of the Filipino."
TV stationsList of TV stations
37.58% (Nielsen National Urban TAM January–August 2016)[1]
HeadquartersABS-CBN Broadcasting Center, Diliman, Quezon City
OwnerABS-CBN Corporation
Key people
Carlo Katigbak (President and chief executive officer)
Maria Socorro Vidanes (Chief operating officer for broadcast)
Malou Santos (Chief operating officer for Star Creatives)
Charo Santos-Concio (Chief content officer)
Laurenti Dyogi (Head of Entertainment Production)
Launch date
October 23, 1953 (first air date)
November 1966 (Color television)
February 11, 2015 (DTT)
October 3, 2015 (HDTV)
Former names
Alto Broadcasting System (ABS)
Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN)
Picture format
480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Sister network
International channel
The Filipino Channel
Official website
LanguageFilipino (main)
English (secondary)

ABS-CBN is the oldest television broadcaster in Southeast Asia and one of the oldest commercial television broadcasters in Asia. It is also the leading television network in the Philippines with advertising revenues of 21.2 billion pesos for the fiscal year of 2015.[2][3][4][5][6] ABS-CBN's first ever television broadcast was on October 23, 1953, as Alto Broadcasting System (ABS) on DZAQ-TV, just 3 months after the first broadcast of Japan's NHK General TV and Nippon Television. It is also the first television network in Southeast Asia to broadcast in color, the first television network in the Philippines to formally launch a digital terrestrial television service, and the first broadcast television network in the Philippines to formally launch in high-definition.

Today, the flagship television station of ABS-CBN is DWWX-TV (ABS-CBN TV-2 Manila). The network operates across the Philippine archipelago through the ABS-CBN Regional division which controls 80 television stations.[2][7] Its programs are also available outside the Philippines through the global subscription television channel The Filipino Channel (TFC) which is now available in over three million paying households worldwide as well as terrestrially in Guam through KEQI-LP. Since 2011, the network is on test broadcast for digital terrestrial television using the Japanese standard ISDB-T in select areas in the Philippines. On October 3, 2015, ABS-CBN started to broadcast in high-definition through its affiliate direct-to-home cable and satellite television providers.


ABS-CBN traces its history to the first Philippine television station DZAQ-TV, owned by Bolinao Electronics Corporation (BEC) which was later renamed Alto Broadcasting System (ABS).

James Lindenberg, the owner of BEC, was the first to apply for a license to the Philippine Congress to establish a television station in 1949. His request was granted on June 14, 1950, under Republic Act 511. Because of the strict import controls and the lack of raw materials needed to open a TV station in the Philippines during the mid-20th century, Lindenberg branched to radio broadcasting instead.[8]

Judge Antonio Quirino, brother of former President Elpidio Quirino, also tried to apply for a license to Congress, but was denied. He later purchased stocks from BEC and subsequently consummated the controlling stock to rename the company from BEC to Alto Broadcasting System (ABS).

DZAQ-TV began commercial television operations on October 23, 1953; the first fully licensed commercial television station in the Philippines. The first program to air was a garden party at the Quirino residence in Sitio Alto, San Juan. After the premiere telecast, the station followed a four-hour-a-day schedule, from six to ten in the evening.[8]

In 1955, Manila Chronicle owner Eugenio Lopez, Sr. and former Vice President Fernando Lopez, acquired a radio-TV franchise from the Congress and immediately established Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN) in 1956, which initially focused only on radio broadcasting. On February 24, 1957, Lopez invited Judge Quirino to his house for breakfast and ABS was bought under a contract written on a table napkin. The corporate name was reverted to Bolinao Electronics Corporation immediately after the purchase of ABS.[8]

With the establishment of DZXL-TV 9 of CBN in April 19 (or July[9]), 1958,[8] the Lopez brothers controlled both television channels in the archipelago, culminating in the first wave of expansion. The monopoly in television was broken in 1960, when DZTV-TV 13 was established by the Inter-Island Broadcasting Corporation (now Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation) (IBC), owned by Dick Baldwin. In 1961, BEC launched the nation's first regional and provincial television station in Cebu City.[8] In the same year, BEC merged ABS and CBN to form the ABS-CBN network, a brand name that would become official in a few years.

In 1966, ABS-CBN became the first TV network to broadcast certain shows in color by using the American NTSC standard and by December 18, 1968, ABS-CBN opened its present-day Broadcast Center complex in Bohol Avenue, Quezon City, moving from its Roxas Boulevard studios that was opened in 1958. It was among the most advanced broadcasting facility of its kind in Asia. Full-color broadcasts began in 1971 (8 hours a day) on ABS-CBN 2 with the availability of more color television sets around Manila and neighboring municipalities and cities.[8]

In 1967, the company was renamed ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation. This company became the formal merger of the two stations DZAQ-TV 3 (ABS) and DZXL-TV 9 (CBN).

In 1969, DZAQ-TV transferred to channel 2 (which remains as the current positioning frequency of the flagship station in Metro Manila), while its sister station DZXL-TV transferred to channel 4. This frequency adjustment was done to make room for Kanlaon Broadcasting System or KBS (now Radio Philippines Network) to occupy the channel 9 frequency. ABS-CBN also sold its headquarters and studios in Roxas Boulevard to KBS.

When then-President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, the station was forced, along with its regional stations and other television networks to shut down, with the company was seized from the Lopez brothers. Its newly built headquarters was renamed as the "Broadcast Plaza", and it became the home of the three TV stations that were controlled by the Marcos regime. The first TV station that took over the facility was the Kanlaon Broadcasting System or KBS-9 (later renamed as Radio Philippines Network or RPN-9 in 1975), after its headquarters and studios at Roxas Boulevard (which ironically previously used by ABS-CBN before moving to Broadcast Center and sold to KBS-9) was destroyed by fire in 1973. KBS-9 was owned by Marcos crony Roberto Benedicto and was the only TV network that was never shut down by the government in the wake of martial law declaration. In 1974, Benedicto-owned Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation or BBC-2, with call sign changed to DWWX-TV, and the state-run Government Television or GTV-4 (later renamed as Maharlika Broadcasting System or MBS-4), with call sign changed to DWGT-TV, soon also took over the Broadcast Plaza. Both TV stations were previously used by ABS-CBN during the pre-Martial Law era. BBC and RPN were relocated to the Broadcast City compound in Old Balara, Quezon City (along with then-sister station Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation or IBC) in 1978.[8]

As the People Power Revolution (commonly known as EDSA Revolution) broke out in the eighties, and Marcos' grip on power debilitated, the reformists in the military contended the broadcasting network would be a vital asset for victory. Thus, at 10 AM on February 24, 1986, they attacked and took the ABS-CBN Broadcast Center that was then the home of MBS-4 [8] and the long hibernation of the station ended in March.

When Marcos was deposed, the network was sequestered and returned Channel 2 to the Lopezes but not Channel 4. On September 14, 1986, ABS-CBN went back on the air, broadcasting from what used to be their main garage at the revived Broadcast Center in the pre-Martial Law days. The network was forced to share space in the building that was rightfully their own with the government TV station Channel 4. At the time, money had been scarce while resources were limited; offices were used as dressing rooms and other equipment such as chairs, tables, and phones were in short supply.[8]

In late 1986, the network was faltering, ranking last among the five stations in the Philippines and was suffering heavy losses. Eugenio "Geny" Lopez Jr. by early 1987 brought in programming whiz and ABS-CBN veteran Freddie Garcia, then working for GMA Network, and set him loose to work his magic touch.

Six months later on March 1, 1987, Channel 2 was relaunched with the live musical special, "The Star Network: Ang Pagbabalik Ng Bituin" (The Return of the Star), and produced a slew of new locally produced programs that composed 85% of its programming lineup then. The relaunch successfully gave the station a boost in the ratings, and by 1988, ABS-CBN became the Philippines' number one TV network, a position it has maintained ever since.

Later that year, the station launched nationwide domestic satellite programming and by 1994, expanded its operations worldwide. In 1999, Channel 2 launched its 120-kilowatt Millennium Transmitter, resulting in improved signal quality throughout Mega Manila.

In 2005, ABS-CBN re-upgraded its transmitter into a very high capacity of 346.2 kilowatts resulting in a much clearer signal in Metro Manila.

During the historic presidential election, in response to the first automation of the election in the country, ABS-CBN utilized a technology from Orad Hi Tech Systems Ltd. that utilizes the principles of augmented reality.[10] The technology uses real-time image processing system for live broadcasts of 3D computer-generated imagery against a real set or background. ABS-CBN also utilized what is probably the biggest touch screen display to be used in a Philippine television show. A new set dubbed as the "WAR" (Wireless Audience Response) room was specifically designed for the said election coverage.[11] The coverage of ABS-CBN became the third top trending topic worldwide on the social networking site Twitter.[12][13]

In 2016, coinciding with the presidential elections, ABS-CBN officially launched its 24-hour broadcasting service, starting with the marathon coverage of Halalan 2016.

In 2018, ABS CBN won 30 awards during the 16th Gawad Tanglaw awards and also won 34 awards during the 32nd Star Awards for Television for their good TV programs and personalities.[14][15]

Also in December of the same year, ABS-CBN inaugurated its new state-of-the-art sound stages studio complex called Horizon IT Park located at San Jose del Monte, Bulacan which is on par with Hollywood standards. The Phase 1 of the project includes its first two sound stages each sized of 1,500 square meters, with the first stage is named for its chairman emeritus, Eugenio Lopez III who visioned of the new studios, The EL3 Stage. The complex also includes backlots, facilities for its production and post-production, and offices. The studios will be used for its upcoming teleserye The Faithful Wife and its reality singing competition show, Idol Philippines, using the name as "Idol City".[16][17][18][19]

ABS-CBN Regional

ABS-CBN Regional (formerly Regional Network Group) is the regional network division of ABS-CBN. It is responsible for simultaneously airing most of the shows seen on ABS-CBN's flagship station in the provinces, all stations (Cebu, Bacolod and Davao) were reopened 16 years ago in 1988 after the network's hibernation due to Martial law in September 1972 aside from Manila's flagship station, which reopened after the People Power Revolution in September 1986. ABS-CBN Regional has several stations in each region outside Mega Manila to ensure nationwide coverage. The local stations also produce their own newscasts which air prior to TV Patrol and other local programming which air on Sundays. The launch of the local game show Kapamilya Winner Ka! (now renamed as Kapamilya, Mas Winner Ka!) in the Visayas and Mindanao, Bagong Morning Kapamilya in North Luzon (Baguio and Dagupan), the 17th local TV Patrol in Southern Tagalog (Region IV-A), and the 18th local TV Patrol in Palawan (IV-B; the network had an affiliate station), provided more relevance to regional audiences.[20] On April 15, 2011, RNG launched ChoosePhilippines, a new website aimed to promote tourism in the Philippines by sharing photos and stories of the most extravagant places, culture, and arts of the Philippine island.[21]

Since July 2018, to align with Manila's digitization of operations, the network imposed a series of cost-cutting measures to ABS-CBN Regional. The move forced most of its weekend programming to get axed, including shows like Kapamilya, Mas Winner Ka!, Mag TV Na, and Agri Tayo Dito. Alongside merging of some TV Patrol newscasts within the same timetable, originating stations in Santiago City, Butuan, Cotabato, Laoag and Pampanga were closed down. While Pampanga was downgraded as a direct relay of channel 2 Manila alongside local advertisements and short news bulletins throughout the day until May 2019, the rest of the affected stations and its associated transmitters became relays of their relevant stations in Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, and General Santos. The network's Dagupan and North Central Luzon stations became North Luzon sub-opts, retaining separate breakfast shows (until November 2) and local advertising.[22] The network, however, managed to expand Tacloban operations in October by expanding its local TV Patrol service to the entire Eastern Visayas region.


The majority of the programs shown on the network are created by ABS-CBN Corporation's Entertainment division. ABS-CBN Entertainment Group is responsible for original programs ranging from musical and variety shows, showbiz, lifestyle, comedy talk shows, comedy, gag shows, and sitcoms. Original and adapted telenovelas and drama anthologies are produced by Dreamscape, Star Creatives and other production drama units created by ABS-CBN, while news, public service, and documentary programs are produced by ABS-CBN News and by other independent production outfits. ABS-CBN also acquires and syndicates program formats from abroad, most of which are reality shows. ABS-CBN also shows regional programs, TV specials, sporting and awarding events.

Digital transition

Digital terrestrial television

ABS-CBN Corporation initially applied for a license from the National Telecommunications Commission to operate a digital terrestrial television service in the country back in 2007.[23] ABS-CBN planned to utilize multiplex to offer ABS-CBN, S+A, and 5 additional specialty TV channels. The conglomerate is expected to spend at least 1 billion pesos annually for the next 5 years for its DTT transition.[24] ABS-CBN utilized UHF channel 51 Manila (695.143 MHz), later UHF Channel 43 (647.143 MHz), for test broadcasts in the DVB-T format. ABS-CBN was expected to begin digital test broadcasts in January 2009.[23][25]

In June 2010, the NTC announced that it would formally adopt the Japanese standard ISDB-T for digital broadcasting and issued a circular commanding all the country's television networks to switch-off their analog services on December 31, 2015, at 11:59 p.m. Philippine Standard Time (UTC+8).[26] But due to delay of the release of the implementing rules and regulations for digital television broadcast, the target date was moved to 2023.[27]

In April 2011, the conglomerate announced further details about its DTT plans, which would offer ABS-CBN and Studio 23 (currently S+A). In addition, four new channels which will be exclusively available to its digital users will be offered once the digital broadcast start. The specialty TV channel line-up will include one news channel, one youth-oriented channel, an educational channel, and a movie channel. The conglomerate is also planning to utilize the 1seg (one segment) broadcast standard for handheld devices.[28][29][30][31]

In September 2014, ABS-CBN soft-launched its DTT service started selling ISDB-T receivers in selected barangays in Metro Manila under Sky TV+ brand. Later, it was rebranded as ABS-CBN TVplus.[32]

On February 11, 2015, ABS-CBN formally launched its DTT service under the name ABS-CBN TVplus in a formal switch-over ceremony held at the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center. The ABS-CBN TVplus service has four exclusive TV channels which are free of charge; these are movie channel Cine Mo!, news channel DZMM TeleRadyo, educational channel Knowledge Channel, and kids channel Yey!. In addition to ABS-CBN and S+A, all non-encrypted digital terrestrial broadcast within the area is also carried by the service. ABS-CBN TVplus also provides pay per view, EWBS, and BML services. As of December 2017, ABS-CBN TVplus has sold over 4 million units of its set-top boxes.[33]

High-definition television

In 2007, ABS-CBN produced the first ever Filipino TV series to be shot in high-definition. This was Rounin, a science fiction, fantasy series created by Erik Matti. This was followed by Budoy in 2011. Prior to this, big-budget series like Esperanza, Mula sa Puso, Pangako Sa 'Yo, and Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay were shot in 16mm film with a 4:3 aspect ratios while low budget series, on the other hand, were shot in smaller formats. Beginning with Be Careful With My Heart in 2012, all of ABS-CBN's TV series were all produced in high-definition format. Ningning is the first Filipino TV series to be broadcast in HD on October 5, 2015, while Maalaala Mo Kaya is the first mini-series to do so the day before. On the other hand, the first ever locally produced live entertainment program to be broadcast in HD is the musical variety show ASAP on October 4, 2015.

On April 19, 2009, Sony announced the acquisition of ABS-CBN of 24 units of its Sony high-definition professional video cameras through a press release published on Sony's official website.[34] On July 11, 2009, ABS-CBN launched a high definition feed of Balls (now S+A HD) in SkyCable under the name Balls HD, the first local high-definition TV channel in the history of Philippine television. On the same day, Balls HD broadcast the first locally produced coverage of an event in high-definition, the UAAP Season 72 basketball game which was produced by ABS-CBN Sports.[35][36] In addition, two of its three news helicopters are capable of transmitting high-definition live feeds from its 5 axis gimbal HD camera mounted on the aircraft.[37]

On April 20, 2010, Ikegami, a Japanese manufacturer of professional and broadcast television equipment announced the acquisition of ABS-CBN of 75 units of Ikegami high-definition professional video cameras for electronic newsgathering.[38]

On October 3, 2015, ABS-CBN launched a high-definition feed in SkyCable and Destiny Cable under the name ABS-CBN HD. This marked the Philippines' first commercial television network to be launched in high-definition. The said channel will broadcast selected shows of ABS-CBN in a true high-definition picture while the remaining shows will be broadcast in upscaled standard definition picture with pillarbox to preserve its original 4:3 aspect ratio.[39] ABS-CBN HD was also made available on Sky Direct, iWant, and Sky On Demand.


In 2007, in preparation for digital and high-definition television broadcasting, ABS-CBN acquired server and post production technologies developed by EVS Broadcast Equipment, making ABS-CBN the first broadcaster in Southeast Asia to go tapeless.[36] EVS provided ABS-CBN a 100 percent digital and non-linear editing system and post-production workflow as well as wireless access through a media access management system servers installed in outside broadcasting van. This will be integrated to technologies developed by Avid Technology,[40][41] Snell, and Ruckus Wireless.[42]

Digital archiving

ABS-CBN started digitizing its film and television contents in 2004.[43] In 2003, ABS-CBN started the migration of the station from a tape-based playout to a tapeless system with the first 4 channels using SeaChange International servers and Etere Automation and Etere Media Asset Management. Further expansions both locally and globally started in 2008 with the integration of its playlist import. In 2010, ABS-CBN started to replace SeaChange International servers with Harmonic Inc. and Etere managing a multi-server, multi-channel system; they also started the HD playout using the Channel in a box technology of Etere MTX.[44]

In 2007, ABS-CBN acquired a Media Asset Management System (MAMS) from IBM Corporation for a cost of 4 million US dollars. The IBM MAMS includes a hardware infrastructure support and 2 petabytes (2000 terabytes) of data storage that is expected to grow by 36 percent over the next few years as ABS-CBN is already generating over 700 hours of contents a month.[45] The MAMS will be integrated to the million dollar Dalet Digital Media Systems[46] and Avid Unity ISIS (Infinitely Scalable Intelligent Storage)[43] that will enable ABS-CBN to digitize and store its over 200,000 hours of television contents and its library of over 2000 films.[47] The digitization of ABS-CBN's films. in particular, includes a digital audio and video restoration and remastering process in 1080p full high-definition pixel resolution in either 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios. As of 2015, ABS-CBN Film Archives, in partnership with Central Digital Lab, Inc., has digitized, restored, and remastered over 130 films which includes classics such as Himala, Oro, Plata, Mata, and Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?. The film processed are made available on wide array of platforms which include free-to-air and cable television, pay per view, DVDs, and limited theatrical screenings.


Since its inception from 1953 until 1960, ABS (Alto Broadcasting System) and CBN (Chronicle Broadcasting Network) were the only commercial television channels in the country. It was only until the 1960s that television became common and at that time, although audience measurement has not yet invented, ABS-CBN was favored by giant companies such as Procter and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever, Nestlé, The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and Caltex. ABS-CBN was the only Philippine television network to air commercials and was only the advertising partner of Colgate-Palmolive products until 2015, when other networks returned to air the Colgate-Palmolive commercials such as rival GMA Network. When the martial law was declared, ABS-CBN and other television networks (except Radio Philippines Network, then as Kanlaon Broadcasting System or KBS) were forced to shut-down and held control by the Government. When it was re-established in 1986 as a commercial television, it had failed to regain its glory days and was ranked behind among the five television networks. It was not until 1987, when it was re-branded as "The Star Network" that it had slowly regained its foothold in TV ratings. In 1992, AGB Nielsen Philippines was founded and a new pace in television history was introduced. In 2007, TNS Philippines started to offer media research through Kantar Media Philippines (formerly Kantar/TNS). In 2008, AGB Nielsen Philippines released the all-time highest rating shows in the Philippines, with 7 of the top 10 highest rating shows all from ABS-CBN with the shows like The Battle: Pacquiao vs. Morales, Rosalinda, Esperanza, Meteor Garden, Pangako Sa 'Yo, Miss Universe 1994, and Maria Mercedes.[48] At the turn of the first decade of the century, competition was up against its closest competitor GMA Network and 5. Moreover, the data released by AGB Nielsen show the Mega Manila data, which favors GMA in the Mega Manila ratings while Kantar Media releases the Total Philippines ratings (National Urban and Rural Households), which favors ABS-CBN.

Controversies and scandals

Throughout the years, ABS-CBN has been involved in several controversies and scandals involving its talents, employees, and programs.

Wowowee scandals and incidents

Two major incidents involving ABS-CBN have involved the networks' variety show Wowowee. Demand for tickets to a one-year anniversary episode of the show at the PhilSports Arena in 2006 caused a deadly stampede killing 76 people.[49] Over a year later in August 2007, the show became entrenched in another scandal involving the possibility of a new game on the show being rigged as evident by a "mechanical glitch" which occurred during an episode,[50] which grew greater after Eat Bulaga! host Joey de Leon and Wowowee host Willie Revillame started exchanging attacks on-air against each other during their respective and competing shows.[51] The incident later led to a probe by the Department of Trade and Industry led by senator Mar Roxas (which was jokingly suggested by Joey during a speech he made on Eat Bulaga! in reference to the Hello Garci scandal, dubbing it "Hello Pappy").[52]

AGB Nielsen TV ratings scandal

In late 2007, ABS-CBN accused AGB Nielsen Philippines of tampering with the ratings during their 2007 ratings surveys.[53][54] On January 8, 2008, Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) junked ABS-CBN's case against AGB Nielsen, saying it was prematurely filed.

Writ of Amparo

On January 22, 2008, Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) supported the petition for writ of amparo filed by the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation's 11 employees (led by Ces Oreña-Drilon) with the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of journalists' arrests concerning the failed Manila Peninsula rebellion. It stated: "We support employees from ABS-CBN in standing up for their democratic rights to work free from harassment and intimidation, especially from government officials and authorities." Meanwhile, the Supreme Court required the respondents to file comment to the amparo petition within 10 days. Further, Harry Roque, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)'s lawyer announced its filing of a class lawsuit for injunction with damages (Article 33, New Civil Code of the Philippines) against the Philippine National Police, among others.

Franchise Renewal of President Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte said several times since 2016 that he would object House Bill No. 4349, which seeks to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise for 25 years. He states that his paid 2016 campaign advertisement did not air on the network while a commercial that was critical of him that was paid by his critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes was shown without problems.[55] The franchise's renewal has been pending since September 15, 2014. Their current franchise, which was approved by virtue of Republic Act No. 7966, expires on March 20, 2020. Even if the Congress provides a bill for its renewal, President Duterte has the power to veto it, that results to their radio and broadcast operations to shut down.[56]


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