By Herbert Vego
IS ABS-CBN Corporation on the verge of regaining its congressional franchise as a free-TV network with the exit of Rodrigo Duterte and the entry of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos as President of the Philippines?
I had hoped so, believing that it was Duterte who had manipulated Congress into junking the renewal of its franchise because the network had failed to air his campaign advertisements during the 2016 presidential election.
I remember a TV interview where Marcos said he would not block any efforts to give ABS-CBN Corp. a new 25-year legislative franchise. But of course, it would be unlikely for him to displease Duterte, who had helped him gain 31 million votes – believe it or not, and thanks to Comelec and Smartmatic — to become the new Malacañang occupant.
And so it came as no surprise that Bongbong kept quiet when some congressmen opposed ABS-CBN’s move to merge with TV5 in a partnership deal on the pretext that that TV5 could be violating its own franchise. Had the deal pushed through, ABS-CBN could have acquired a 35% stake worth Php 2.16 billion.
If it’s any consolation, ABS-CBN eventually made it as a mere “content provider” for what used to be its rival for audience share, GMA TV. Their first joint project, in collaboration with Viu Philippines, is a romantic teleserye, “Unbreak My Heart”. Starring Joshua Garcia, Gabbi Garcia, Richard Yap, and Jodi Sta. Maria, it will start shooting soon in Switzerland.
ABS-CBN is also maintaining its online presence through its ANC news channel.
If it’s true, however, that the network has already lost interest in regaining its franchise for radio and TV frequencies, then thousands of its terminated employees would be permanently bidding goodbye.
ABS-CBN used to operate AM-FM radio and TV stations nationwide.
Lest I be suspected of doing PR for ABS-CBN, nay. But my “connection” stems from a sentimental time travel.
As a child in the 1950s, I witnessed the rise of Alto Broadcasting System (ABS) and Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN). A third competitor was Republic Broadcasting System (RBS), which would eventually be sold to another company and renamed GMA. Each of the three had a TV channel. Their respective radio stations beamed from Metro Manila – DZAQ, DZXL and DZBB – were heard loud and clear here in the entire Visayas.
Those were the days when radio and TV commentators minced no words in exposing graft and corruption in all government offices, including Malacañang.
It was widely believed that the then incumbent re-electionist President Diosdado Macapagal lost by landslide to then Senate President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos in 1965 due to the widely-publicized “Stonehill scandal”. It was about American expatriate businessman Harry Stonehill, charged with bribing Macapagal and other government officials in exchange for evading taxes.
MORE POWER’S NEW MOBILE SUBSTATION FULLY ENERGIZED
IT was another leap toward modernization that MORE Power, the power-distribution utility in Iloilo City, did yesterday with the energization of its brand-new 30/36 MVA mobile substation, taking over the load of the old Molo power transformer.
“This exciting move,” to quote a line from the company’s Facebook page, “is a testament to our commitment to delivering reliable and efficient power to our valued customers.”
The new equipment boasts of a 30-MVA power transformer, a new technology (Hitachi Energy) which compactly combines a power circuit breaker, disconnect switches, current transformers, and potential transformers in one mobile package.
It has compact gas-insulated switchgears and relays by Siemens and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), as well as a state-of-the-art digital tap changer. Its dissolved gas analysis (DGA) of transformers can provide insights into thermal and electrical stresses sustained by oil-immersed power transformers. Because it detects incipient transformer faults, DGA can help prevent further damage.
MORE Power’s five-year modernization program as envisioned by President and CEO Roel Z. Castro is expected to hit the finish line in 2025.