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What's Next for ABS-CBN? There's a Clue in Africa

It's the Kapamilya content machine.
Sep 24, 2020
Photo/s: Jerome Ascano

Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez on Thursday quit ABS-CBN Corp as Chairman Emeritus on Thursday, leaving behind what was once the Philippines' largest TV juggernaut, until Congress killed its hope for a new license to operate. Even before the franchise drama, the company was preparing for what's next.

In Tanzania last year, southeast Africa, Azam Media aired ABS-CBN's sexy soap "Halik." Crossing Europe and into the Americas, Color Vision Canal 9 in the Dominican Republic aired the 2015 reboot of "Pangako Sa Yo." Several years back, the original "Pangako Sa Yo" was shown in Myanmar.

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ABS-CBN, content creator

Speaking to shareholders Thursday, Lopez's cousin, ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak said ABS-CBN would focus on producing content. 

"Now more than ever, we can focus on our core capabilities, creating programs to entertain, inspire and give joy for Filipino families and delivering news that informs, educates and helps our Kababayan especially in their time of need," Katigbak said.

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In its 2019 annual report that was released last month, ABS-CBN told investors that deprived of a free TV franchise, it would concentrate on its core strength -- content creation, which will be delivered on "any device and medium."

There are signs that this is beginning to happen, Brightlight Productions has tapped ABS-CBN talents Piolo Pascual, Korina Sanchez, and Catriona Gray to star in programs that will be aired on TV5. The Kapatid network also earlier took in Ted Failon for radio and Cathy Yang as spokeswoman for sister company PLDT.

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ABS-CBN, pop influencer

Before it went off air, ABS-CBN was home to one of television's longest-running primetime dramas, “Ang Probinsyano” starring Coco Martin, which was so popular its protrayal of law enforcers caught the attention of the real-life police leadership.

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Such is the appeal of ABS-CBN shows and characters that it inspires both fandom and protests. During the marathon franchise hearings, COO for broadcast Cory Vidanes defended the network’s depiction of government on TV, adding the aim of drama shows is to impart lessons.

“Media is a reflection of what is happening in society. Like ‘Ang Probinsyano,’ it’s a reflection of what’s happening in everyday life,” said Nestor Castro a cultural anthropologist from the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Portraying even society’s ills allows audiences to identify with a TV show, regardless of network, he told reportr. “Why do many identify with this teleserye? It’s because they feel like they’re looking at the mirror... It’s a form of relief.”

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