It’s been more than a month since Philippine media giant ABS-CBN went off the air.
At the resumption of congressional hearings on the renewal of the company’s franchise, ABS-CBN vice chairman Atty. Augusto “Jake” Almeda-Lopez appealed to Congress to recognize the value and the major contributions of ABS-CBN and its 11,000 workers to the country.
“Can you give me another two minutes? You know we are fighting for our lives,” said Almeda-Lopez during the House panel committee hearing on the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN.
The ABS-CBN franchise expired on May 4, 2020.
On May 5, the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order to immediately close its broadcasting operations, including its radio stations DZMM, S+A and MOR, following the expiration of its broadcast franchise the day before.
The cease and desist order covers 42 television stations operated by ABS-CBN across the Philippines, including the main ABS-CBN Network, ABS-CBN Sports and Action, ten digital broadcast channels, 18 FM stations, and five AM stations.
However, ABS-CBN News Channel, TeleRadyo and its sister cable channels (run by subsidiary Creative Programs), as well as its online properties, and production companies Star Music and Star Cinema, were allowed to continue as their operations are not contingent on the legislative franchise.
“We deserve the renewal of our franchise, and that if you don’t renew our franchise you’re going to deprive the public of so much entertainment, news, and more or less the building of culture,” he said.
Almeda-Lopez emphasized that ABS-CBN is more than just TV channel 2 and DZMM AM radio and that it has made key contributions to the nation such as the Knowledge Channel.
“Knowledge Channel is a very important public service we are providing. It was even cited and awarded by the United Nations as one of the most effective public service programs in the country,” he said.
He likewise mentioned how ABS-CBN Foundation has been providing relevant public service programs, as it has been “the first responder or one of the first responders to any disasters in this country.”
Almeda-Lopez, who was general manager of ABS-CBN in 1966, also cited the Foundation’s Bantay Bata program that rescues and protects Filipino children from abuse, the Pasig River clean-up program, and several medical missions rendered “in the service of the Filipino.”
“So I plead to the members of Congress to give ABS-CBN a chance to show its worth and contribution to the country,” he said.
Almeda-Lopez is not related to the Lopez family, but was general manager of ABS-CBN in 1966 until the station was shut down when then President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial Law in 1972.
Almeda Lopez was jailed during martial law, but escaped to the United States. He returned to the country before the EDSA uprising and was imprisoned again by Marcos.