Ang kulit! ABS-CBN sets record straight on new franchise

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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Ang kulit! ABS-CBN sets record straight on new franchise

FORMER GIANT. The ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center in Quezon City.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

Lopez-led ABS-CBN Corporation issues a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on reports of a 'comeback'

Ever since ABS-CBN Corporation (ABS-CBN) was ordered by the Duterte administration to shut down its free TV and radio operations four years ago, reports about a new franchise for the Lopez media conglomerate still circulate once in a while. 

The reports spread again after ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak promised Kapamilyas last December that 2024 would be the “best year” for the company after losing its lucrative broadcast business in 2020. 

Some social media pages then speculated in January that ABS-CBN would be returning soon, which company executives internally denied. 

Even a reputable entertainment website got caught in the hype and reported – albeit more cautiously – that ABS-CBN’s franchise “may be restored” in 2024. 

The reports spread again this week after a daily broadsheet wrote about a possible ABS-CBN comeback, linking it to former senator Manny Villar’s broadcasting venture, Advanced Media Broadcasting System (AMBS). With no franchise, ABS-CBN disposed of its broadcast equipment, including selling some to Villar so it can operate its ALLTV after securing the Channel 2 frequency.

Take 2 for Manny Villar’s Channel 2?

Take 2 for Manny Villar’s Channel 2?

Asked by the Philippine Stock Exchange to clarify this latest report, publicly-listed ABS-CBN gave an official statement on Tuesday, February 27.

“ABS-CBN Corporation disposed of assets that the company no longer needed to various broadcasting networks after we ceased operations as a broadcasting company,” the company told the Philippine Stock Exchange.  

“It is not true that ABS-CBN is applying for a new franchise nor does it intend to buy back any of the assets it sold,” it added.  

ABS-CBN has pivoted into a content creation company and now distributes its entertainment and news programs to various platforms, including to its former competitors. 

Although it no longer has a broadcast franchise, most of its entertainment shows, especially its popular teleseryes (TV series) can be seen on free television, including tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan’s TV5 and televangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva’s A2Z channel.

It is also doing business with its erstwhile enemy, the Philippines’ leading media conglomerate GMA Network, such as co-producing Unbreak My Heart, and selling its movies and other entertainment content so that Kapuso viewers can watch them.


Select ABS-CBN movies and teleseryes are also available via streaming platforms like Netflix and Viu.

With the scuttled Sky Cable acquisition by telco giant PLDT Incorporated, ABS-CBN still has its Kapamilya Channel as well as the ABS-CBN News Channel on Sky Cable and on YouTube.

On radio, ABS-CBN returned to the airwaves on June 30 via a content supply agreement with House Speaker Martin Romualdez’s Prime Media Holdings Incorporated

ABS-CBN’s former radio station DZMM was resurrected via radio DWPM 630. Under the joint venture Media Serbisyo Production Corporation, ABS-CBN supplies the content, while Prime Media handles the airing.  

So, what’s generating this demand for an ABS-CBN free TV comeback? Perhaps, it’s economic. Free TV is ultimately better than paid TV for many people, especially those in the lower-income groups who live in areas not covered by Digital Terrestrial Television. It may also be a sign that people are not happy with unstable telco service. 

Whatever the reasons, it’s probably best to just ignore these reports of an ABS-CBN comeback. They’re already back. Ang kulit ‘nyo!Rappler.com

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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.