By Hanah Tabios
“Mula sa tahanan ng ABS-CBN dito sa Pilipinas, magandang gabi, bayan.”
ABS-CBN’s lead male anchor and seasoned journalist Noli de Castro greeted the viewers of the network’s primetime newscast TV Patrol with his signature opening line on Thursday (May 7), just two days after the network was forced to go off air with the closure order from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
At exactly 6:25 p.m., all three anchors, including Bernadette Sembrano-Aguinaldo and Ted Failon, were back on-air. However, for the first time, the embattled network’s primetime newscast was aired through digital platforms Facebook, YouTube, and through ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) as they are not covered by the order.
As analog TV screens remain black, journalists from the network assured the public that even after the shutdown, the work goes on.
“Hindi pa tapos ang laban,” they said. (The fight is not yet over.)
With emotions running high, over 200,000 Facebook viewers joined TV Patrol’s digital launching. Most stories centered on how the network touched the hearts of its avid viewers.
The network has asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the implementation of the NTC’s cease-and-desist order.
But the NTC stood firm, saying there was no chance for its recall, as discussed in a story by ABS-CBN’s Alvin Elchico.
Many have expressed their disappointment over the sudden shutdown of ABS-CBN Corporation’s analog broadcast, as the Philippine media giant has been serving as one of the country’s main sources of information for decades.
At the height of the ongoing global health crisis, academic experts, journalists, and even ordinary citizens, have argued that the shutdown was a form of oppression in terms of depriving the public of their right to know, and an attempt to curtail press freedom.
Bangsamoro Parliament member Zia Alonto Adiong tweeted that several remote areas in Mindanao relied on the network as their main source of information.
“Living in an area where cable networks hardly operate, [the] majority of our towns in Lanao del Sur, especially in far-flung areas, tuned in to ABS-CBN because its the only channel their makeshift TV antennas could reach. They, too, have rights to accurate information,” the lawmaker said, expressing his support for ABS-CBN.
Viewers, including children, have been ranting online that they have lost their only source of entertainment, especially at noontime and in the evening when workers enjoyed “family time” on normal days.
But the network assured their supporters that as they battle the closure order, the delivery of their news will resume on several platforms, such as through their own mobile applications, iWant, and ABS-CBN News, among others.