Teleradyo signs off as ABS-CBN tries to cut losses
MANILA, Philippines — Teleradyo, for years one of the country’s leading broadcast news organizations, will soon bow out even from livestreaming and pay-TV platforms as its mother company, ABS-CBN, continues to bleed financially more than three years after being denied an extended franchise by the House of Representatives during the Duterte administration.
ABS-CBN on Tuesday announced it “can no longer sustain Teleradyo’s operations [and] is left with no choice but to cease operations of Teleradyo effective June 30 to prevent further business losses.”
“While it is still unclear how these decisions will affect our colleagues, we note that many of them stayed with the company despite uncertainty and pay cuts,” it said. “They should not be abandoned now as the network seeks ways forward from the franchise troubles that it has been weathering since 2020,” according to a company statement issued by corporate communications head Kane Errol Chua.
Teleradyo was ordered to stop airing on free TV and on the AM band shortly after the network’s franchise expired in May 2020.
On July 10 that year, the House, under then Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, voted 70-11 to reject a new free TV franchise for ABS-CBN, the Lopez-led media giant that had earned the wrath of then President Rodrigo Duterte. Teleradyo programming was later limited to digital formats and cable and satellite TV.
Former ABS-CBN news chief Ging Reyes, who led the newsroom through its tumultuous period up until her retirement, called the impending closure “heartbreaking” and assured her ABS-CBN colleagues that “they did everything you could—to keep delivering news and information in the face of monumental challenges.”
“I’m thinking of my Teleradyo team today,” she said in a post on Twitter. “Don’t let anyone or anything crush your spirit.”
The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) expressed hope that ABS-CBN “will give its media workers affected by these corporate decisions the assistance and support they will need in the transition.”
“It is saddening, while also enraging, that the effects of the [franchise] rejection are still being felt more than three years later, long after the term of the President who made it known he wanted the network off the air,” the NUJP’s ABS CBN chapter said. “Let this day remind us why this happened and why we should never let this happen again. Never forget.’’
New joint venture
But in the same statement on Tuesday, ABS-CBN revealed it was taking a second shot at establishing a joint venture (JV) to find job opportunities for Teleradyo employees.
The company announced it was entering into a deal with Prime Media Holdings Inc., a company owned by incumbent Speaker Martin Romualdez, who in 2020 was one of the congressmen who voted against renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise.
The company to be formed under the JV will have an initial paid-in capital of P40 million, with Prime Media being the majority owner with a 51-percent stake and ABS-CBN owning 49 percent.
The new company will produce and finance content for distribution to local and international networks, channels and platforms. Its board of directors will have five members appointed by Prime Media and four by ABS-CBN.
New job option
Prime Media, which was operating a bank before becoming a holding company in 2002, said the JV was “in line with [its] strategic plan to venture into media and entertainment by securing partnerships for content development, production and distribution to expand its business.”
The joint venture will give “some of our former (Teleradyo) personnel a chance to find job opportunities,” ABS-CBN said.
On Tuesday, ABS-CBN shares climbed by 5.31 percent to P7.34, while Prime Media shares fell 6.27 percent to P2.69.