The reality of job cuts takes hold at ABS-CBN this weekend, with an undisclosed number set to report for work for the last time on Aug. 31. On Friday, twelve regional editions of the Lopez-owned broadcaster's TV Patrol newscast will bid audiences farewell.
For those who are not required to work on Monday, a non-working holiday, or are not on weekend shift, Friday could be their last day in the office. ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak had said multiple times that the layoffs are a painful but necessary move to preserve some jobs and keep the company running after Congress denied it a 25-year franchise.
The layoffs include familiar faces: veteran TV anchor and lifestyle head Ces Drilon and TV Patrol anchor Bernadette Sembrano, who was retrenched as a reporter but would stay on as one of the newscast leads. Some transfered. Cathy Yang from ANC is now first vice president at PLDT Inc. The "Dos Por Dos" duo of Anthony Taberna and Gerry Baja are now with DZRH radio.
A report on TV Patrol showed employees, some in tears, clearing their tables. Many of them are breadwinners who consider ABS-CBN their extended family.
"Hindi ka lang basta nagwo-work e. Yung trabaho mo sa ABS, yun ang pangalawang tahanan mo. Yun ang pangalawang pamilya mo. Ginagawa mo yun kasi yun ang passion mo. Tapos biglang isang araw ganito lang siya mag-end up (It's not just work. ABS-CBN is our home, our second family. We do our jobs out of passion. The one day, it all ends up like this.)," said Lea Macdon, a producer for the current affairs show "#NoFilter."
"Hindi ko ma-explain ang emotion, pero lahat down. Down lahat ako. Puso, isipan, kaluluwa ko lahat down (I can't explain my emotions, but I'm completely down. My heart, mind and soul are down)," said Ivy De Castro-Castillo, who works at the ABS-CBN Executive Office.
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ABS-CBN said it lost nearly P4 billion in the first six months of the year, reflecting the twin blows of the COVID-19 pandemic and the denial of its franchise renewal that sapped TV ad revenues. Off the air since May 5, the company is shifting its popular entertainment and news programs to digital: its own iWant, Facebook and YouTube.
Sources told PEP.ph that ABS-CBN was negotiating a blocktime deal with televangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva's ZOE TV. This means ABS-CBN programs could be airing again soon on free TV. The Lopezes have not commented on this.
ABS-CBN told the stock exchange it posted a net loss of P3.17 billion in the quarter ended June, bringing net losses in the first half to P3.93 billion. It's a reversal from the net income of P1.5 billion net income in January to June last year. Consolidated revenues from advertising and consumer sales fell 36% to P7.5 billion.
WHAT WENT BEFORE: These ABS-CBN Departments, Units are Closing Down
WHAT'S NEXT: ABS-CBN Offers 'Sineskwela' Library, Transmission for Education New Normal