ABS-CBN is a major commercial television network in the Philippines. It is the oldest and the leading television network in the country[4][5][6] with an advertising revenue of 19 billion for the fiscal year 2012.[7] It is a unit of the media conglomerate ABS-CBN Corporation. It was launched on 23 October 1953 under the name Alto Broadcasting System, and is among the first commercial television networks in Asia. Its headquarters are in Quezon City with regional offices and news bureaus in over 25 provincial areas throughout the country.

The flagship television station of ABS-CBN in Metro Manila is DWWX-TV (VHF channel 2) while provincially, the network operates through its Regional Network Group of 25 originating stations, 38[8] relay stations and 8 affiliate television stations. Its programming is also available outside the Philippines as The Filipino Channel.


ABS-CBN traces its history to the first Philippine television station DZAQ-TV, owned by Bolinao Electronics Corporation which was later renamed Alto Broadcasting System.

James Lindenberg, owner of BEC, was the first to apply for a license to the Philippine Congress to establish a television station in 1949. His request was granted on 14 June 1950. Because of the strict import controls and the lack of raw materials needed to open a TV station in the Philippines during the mid-20th century, Lindenberg branched to radio broadcasting instead.[9]

Judge Antonio Quirino, brother of former President Elpidio Quirino, also tried to apply for a license to Congress, but was denied. He later purchased stocks from BEC and subsequently gained the controlling stock to rename the company from BEC to Alto Broadcasting System (ABS).

DZAQ-TV began commercial television operations on 23 October 1953; the first fully licensed commercial television station in the Philippines. The first program to air was a garden party at the Quirino residence in Sitio Alto, San Juan. After the premiere telecast, the station followed a four-hour a day schedule, from six to ten in the evening.[9]

In 1955, Manila Chronicle owner Eugenio Lopez, Sr. and former Vice President Fernando Lopez, acquired a radio-TV franchise from the Congress and immediately established Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN) in 1956. On 24 February 1957 Lopez invited Judge Quirino to his house for breakfast and ABS was bought under a contract written on a table napkin. The corporate name was reverted to Bolinao Electronics Corporation immediately after the purchase of ABS.[9]

With the establishment of DZXL-TV 9 of CBN in 1956, the Lopez brothers controlled both television channels in the archipelago, culminating in the first wave of expansion. The monopoly in television was broken in 1961, when DZBB-TV 7 was established by the Republic Broadcasting System (now GMA Network, Inc.) (RBS), owned by Robert Stewart, on the same year it launched the nation's first regional and provincial television station in Cebu City on 24 July.[9]

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In 1967, the company was renamed ABS–CBN Broadcasting Corporation. This company became the formal merger of the two stations DZAQ-TV 3 (ABS) and DZXL-TV 9 (CBN).

In 1966, ABS-CBN became the first TV network to broadcast certain shows in color and by 18 December 1968, ABS-CBN opened its present day Broadcast Center complex in Bohol Avenue, Quezon City. It was among the most advanced broadcasting facility of its kind in Asia. Full color broadcasts began in 1971 on ABS-CBN 2 with the availability of more color television sets around Manila and neighboring municipalities and cities.[9]

In 1969, DZAQ-TV transferred to channel 2, while its sister station DZXL-TV transferred to channel 4. This was in response to frequency adjustments, giving room for the television station of the Kanlaon Broadcasting System (now Radio Philippines Network) to occupy the Channel 9 frequency.

When then President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, the station was forced to shut down. The company was seized from the Lopez brothers and its newly built Broadcast Center became the home of state-run TV stations Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation (BBC Channel 2, with call sign changed to DWWX-TV), Government Television (GTV Channel 4, with call sign changed to DWGT-TV and later renamed MBS-4), Kanlaon Broadcasting System (KBS Channel 9) and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC Channel 13).[9]

The long hibernation of the station ended on February 1986. As the EDSA revolt broke out in the eighties, and Marcos' grip on power debilitated, the reformists in the military contended the broadcasting network would be a vital asset for victory. Thus, at 10 AM on February 24, they attacked and took the ABS-CBN Broadcast Center that was then the home of MBS-4.[9]

When Marcos was deposed, the network was sequestered and returned Channel 2 to the Lopezes but not Channel 4. On 14 September 1986, ABS-CBN went back on the air, broadcasting from what used to be their main garage at Broadcast Center in the pre-Martial Law days. The network was forced to share space in the building that was rightfully their own with the government TV station Channel 4. At the time, money had been scarce while resources were limited; offices were used as dressing rooms and other equipment such as chairs, tables, and phones were in short supply.[9]

In late 1986, the network was faltering, ranking last among the five stations in the Philippines and was suffering heavy losses. Eugenio "Geny" Lopez Jr. by early 1987 brought in programming whiz and ABS-CBN veteran Freddie Garcia, then working for GMA Network, and set him loose to work his magic touch.

Six months later on 1 March 1987, Channel 2 was relaunched with the live musical special, "The Star Network: Ang Pagbabalik Ng Bituin" (The Return of the Star). In 1988, ABS-CBN was topping the Mega Manila ratings, a position it had never relinquished for 16 years.

Later that year, the station launched nationwide domestic satellite programming and by 1994, expanded its operations worldwide. In 1999, Channel 2 launched its 120-kilowatt Millennium Transmitter, resulting in improved signal quality throughout Mega Manila.

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In 2005, ABS-CBN re-upgraded its transmitter into a very high capacity of 346.2 kilowatts resulting on a much clearer signal in Metro Manila.

Regional Network Group

The Regional Network Group (RNG) is the provincial network subsidiary of ABS-CBN. It is responsible for simultaneously airing most of the shows seen on ABS-CBN's flagship station in the provinces. The Regional Network Group has several stations in each region outside Mega Manila to ensure nationwide coverage. The local stations also produce their own newscasts which air prior to TV Patrol and other local programming which air on Sundays. Regional Network Group (RNG) glorified its roots while reaching out wider audience in 2007, consistently building on local content and developing infrastructure to deliver better service and cement its position as the top-rating regional network in the country. Regional versions of favorite TV shows were created, enabling ABS-CBN to reach out and connect with wider audiences worldwide. The launch of the local game show Kapamilya Winner Ka! in Visayas and Mindanao. Gandang Umaga, Pilipinas in Northern Luzon, and the 17th local TV Patrol in Southern Tagalog (Region IV-A & IV-B), provided more relevance to regional audiences. On 29 January 2011, Charie Villa was appointed as the new head of RNG.[10] On 15 April 2011, RNG launched ChoosePhilippines, a new website aimed to promote tourism in the Philippines by sharing photos and stories of the most extravagant places, culture, and arts of the Philippine island.[11]


Most of the program line-up of ABS-CBN are originally produced by the company's television production unit. These include programs ranging from musical and variety shows, reality shows, game shows, entertainment and lifestyle talk shows, sitcoms, and gag shows. Soap operas and drama anthologies on the other hand are produced under Star Television & DreamScape Entertainment Television while news, documentaries, and public affairs programs are produced by ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs and other independent production outfit while licensed franchises from abroad are co-produced by the licensee. Some 20 percent of the program line-up of ABS-CBN though are imported from abroad, these include animation from Japan and the United States, television series from Korea and Taiwan, and foreign films mostly from the United States, Hong Kong, and Thailand. ABS-CBN also airs special events like Oscars, Miss Universe, Miss Earth, Miss Philippines Earth, NBA, NFL, Top-Rank boxing, and other sports and awarding events.


Since its inception in 1953 until 1961, ABS-CBN (then Alto Broadcasting System) is the only commercial television network in the country. It was only until 1960's that television became common and at that time, although audience measurement has not yet invented, ABS was favored by giant companies like Procter and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Caltex. When the martial law was declared, ABS-CBN and other television networks were forced to shut-down and held control by the Government. When it was re-established in 1986 as a commercial television, it had failed to regain its glory days and was ranked behind among the five television networks. It was not until 1987, when it was re-branded as "The Star Network" that it had slowly regained its foothold in TV ratings. In 1992, AGB Nielsen Philippines was founded and a new pace in television history was introduced. In 2007, TNS Philippines started to offer media research through Kantar Media Philippines (formerly Kantar/TNS). In 2008, AGB Nielsen Philippines released the all-time highest rating shows in the Philippines, with 7 of the top 10 highest rating shows all from ABS-CBN with the shows like The Battle: Pacquiao vs. Morales, Rosalinda, Esperanza, Miss Universe 1997, Pangako sa 'Yo, and Maria Mercedes.[12] At the turn of the first decade of the century, competition was up against its closest competitor GMA Network and TV5. Moreover, the data released by AGB Nielsen show the Mega Manila data, which favors GMA in the Mega Manila ratings while Kantar Media releases the Total Philippines ratings (National Urban and Rural Households), which favors ABS-CBN.

Controversies and scandals

In recent years, ABS-CBN has been involved in several controversies and scandals involving its subsidiaries and programming.

Wowowee scandals and incidents

Two major incidents involving ABS-CBN have involved the networks' variety show Wowowee. Demand for tickets to a one-year anniversary episode of the show at the PhilSports Arena in 2006 caused a deadly stampede killing 76 people.[13] Over a year later in August 2007, the show became entrenched in another scandal involving the possibility of a new game on the show being rigged as evident by a "mechanical glitch" which occurred during an episode,[14] which grew greater after Eat Bulaga! host Joey de Leon and Wowowee host Willie Revillame started exchanging attacks on-air against each other during their respective and competing shows.[15] The incident later lead to a probe by the Department of Trade and Industry led by senator Mar Roxas (which was jokingly suggested by Joey during a speech he made on Eat Bulaga! in reference to the Hello Garci scandal, dubbing it "Hello Pappy")[16]

Nielsen TV ratings scandal

In late 2007, ABS-CBN accused AGB Nielsen Philippines of tampering with the ratings during their 2007 ratings surveys.[17][18] On January 8, Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) junked ABS-CBN's case against AGB Nielsen saying it was prematurely filed.

Writ of Amparo

On 22 January 2008, Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) supported the petition for writ of amparo filed by the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation's 11 employees (led by Ces Oreña-Drilon) with the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of journalists' arrests concerning the failed Manila Peninsula rebellion. It stated: "We support employees from ABS-CBN in standing up for their democratic rights to work free from harassment and intimidation, especially from government officials and authorities." Meanwhile the Supreme Court required the respondents to file comment to the amparo petition within 10 days. Further, Harry Roque, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)'s lawyer announced its filing of a class lawsuit for injunction with damages (Article 33, New Civil Code of the Philippines) against the Philippine National Police, among others.


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  1. Putong, George (16 July 2009). In The Service of The Filipino: Vision, Mission, and Values of ABS-CBN. Retrieved on 27 July 2012.
  2. ABS-CBN Corp. Comm.. ABS-CBN dominates TV ratings in urban and rural households this June. ABS-CBN. Retrieved on 15 July 2012.
  3. ABS-CBN rules daytime and primetime TV ratings nationwide in July. ABS-CBN Corporate Communications. Retrieved on 14 August 2012.
  4. Tuazon, Ramon (16 June 2013). Philippine Television: That's Entertainment. National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
  5. Lucas, Daxim (23 June 2012). "TV5 losses double to P4.1B in 2011". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 
  6. Rimando, Lala (1 March 2012). "MVP says he's still interested in GMA-7". Rappler. 
  7. Villanueva, Paul Michael (21 March 2013). "2012 Financial & Operating Results" (Press release). 
  8. Cerrado, Aldrin (5 June 2013). "ABS-CBN Corporation Amended 2012 SEC Form 17-A" (Press release). 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 Anastacio, Ellen Joy (1 January 2010). The History of Philippine Television. UP-CMC Broadcast Department. Retrieved on 6 April 2012.
  10. Jarloc, Glaiza, Charie Villa leads ABS-CBN's Regional Network Group, Sun.Star Cebu,, retrieved 29 January 2011 
  11. ABS-CBN Regional Network Group launches Choose Philippines site, ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs,, retrieved 16 April 2011 
  12. Nathan (17 March 2008). 30 All-Time Highest-rated Philippine TV shows based from the overnight ratings tabulation of AGB Nielsen Philippines in Mega Manila as of February 2008. Kwuaderno. Retrieved on 1 July 2012.
  13. "73 dead in stampede at Philippine game show". ABC News. 4 February 2006. 
  14. ABS-CBN: No cheating in Wowowee's 'Wilyonaryo'. GMA News and Current Affairs (30 August 2007). Retrieved on 10 April 2009.
  15. Joey tells Willie: Explain before you Complain. GMA News and Public Affairs (30 August 2007). Retrieved on 11 April 2009.
  16. "Roxas seeks probe on 'Hello, Pappy' game show 'scam'". GMA News and Current Affairs. 30 August 2007. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 3 November 2007. 
  17. "GMA 7 tagged in scandal". 2007-12-20. 
  18. Godinez, Bong (20 December 2007). Quezon City court issues TRO against AGB Nielsen. Retrieved on 7 April 2012.

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