It all began with the setting up of a transmitter tower in San Juan, the importation of 300 TV sets, and a party hosted by part-owner Tony Quirino in 1953. “Alto” of Alto Broadcasting System was lifted from the names of Tony and his wife Alleli. The merger the country will never forget followed, with the late Eugenio Lopez (ELJ) Sr., head of Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN), then acquiring ABS. ABS-CBN officially came to be on February 26, 1957.
The Kapamilya network we know today has been in the service of the Filipino for 65 years. Much like anything that ages, ABS-CBN has a number of innovations in its history. And while it may have been forced to shut down twice (with the most recent last May 5, as major parts of the world and the Philippines are embattled in a pandemic), it proudly shares the following list of milestones and firsts that have set standards and propelled change.
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The first local color TV
A partnership between ELJ and Radio Corporation of America finally brought color to the Philippine television for the first time in 1966.
Philippine’s first marathon election coverage
ABS-CBN was the first in the Philippines to broadcast a marathon election coverage, then called “Halalan ‘67,” which lasted 36 hours straight.
Philippine’s first telecast via satellite network
The network aired its first telecast of live satellite feeds and news updates for its “Man on the Moon” coverage in 1969.
Surviving Martial Law
ABS-CBN’s operations were put to a stop for 14 years due to Martial Law under Ferdinand Marcos, only to come back stronger in 1986.
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ABS-CBN's first moniker
In 1987, ABS-CBN took on the alias “The Star Network.”
Birth of in-house talent agency and film production
1991 marked the birth of The Talent Center, which up to this day aims to develop new stars for ABS-CBN. Two years later saw ABS-CBN's own production house venture Star Cinema release its first film Adan Ronquillo—a collaboration with Regal Films Bong Revilla, Sheryl Cruz, and the late Miguel Rodriguez.
ABS-CBN's global reach kick-starts
ABS-CBN committed to be of service to Filipinos worldwide through The Filipino Channel (TFC), which was broadcast in April 1994.
ABS-CBN's prestigious news channel born
Then named Sarimanok News Network and launched in May 1996, the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) operates as the Philippines’ only cable news network running 24/7.
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ABS-CBN redefines 'service'
The ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. launched the Bantay Bata 163 in 1997, its child welfare program. To this day, Bantay Bata 163 continues to serve and protect Filipino children in need with food and shelter aids.
93, 35, 2000
The year was 1999 and ABS-CBN has officially made a household name by reaching 93% of TV households via a network of 35 TV stations and 2,000 affiliates.
ABS-CBN’s first 'teleserye'
Pangako Sa’Yo, the Kapamilya network’s first teleserye led by Jericho Rosales and Kristien Hermosa, piloted in 2000. The show reached immense popularity that it has since been dubbed to air Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Turkey, Russa, and France.
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Philippines' first ever Emmy nomination
ABS-CBN's now-defunct newscast Bandila earned the country its first Emmy nomination in 2005, for its report on the "The Subic Rape Case Promulgation."
Big Brother, a rather raunchy reality show that took the world by storm, finally made its way to the Philippines as a Kapamilya show in 2005. This was arguably one of the biggest phenomena the Philippine TV has ever seen. The network has since produced some of its biggest stars from the pool of former Pinoy Big Brother housemates, including Sam Milby, Kim Chiu, Gerald Anderson, MayMay Entrata, and more!
Radio and TV media collide
2007 marked the launch of DZMM Teleradyo cable TV channel, ABS-CBN’s first attempt at merging radio and TV media.
The power of citizen journalism
ABS-CBN’s Boto Mo, i-Patrol Mo campaign brought light to the Maguindanao/Ampatuan massacre. ANC broke the news to the world after a Boto Patroller sent a picture of the crime scene to ABS-CBN in 2009.
Halalan 2010 AR
ABS-CBN’s annual coverage of the national elections met digital technology through the use of the network’s broadcast technology augmented reality.
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First attempt at merch
In 2011, ABS-CBN Store opened—with many of its trademark personalities, shows, campaigns, and even featured events like the UAAP now part of a wide-ranging set of merchandise. It would go live with its online component three years later.
More advocacies ensue
ABS-CBN furthered its causes with the unveiling of travel website Choose Philippines in 2011, inviting user-generated content related to local tourism and economy.
'End of the world'—not!
Many believed 2012 as the end of the world, it most certainly was not for ABS-CBN as it marked several milestones that year. Among which were the pilot of its archive channel Jeepney TV on SKY and the coming to life of iWant.TV and TFC.tv.
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More new ventures
ABS-CBN embarked on new projects: Kidzania theme park, ABS-CBN Mobile or ABS-CBN’s mobile service in partnership with Globe Telecom, and O Shopping, its home shopping channel in partnership with the Korean-based CJ O Shopping Corporation.
Expanding into sports and education
ABS-CBN continued to expand its horizons by unveiling ABS-CBN Sports+Action on Channel 23, a channel dedicated to local and international sporting events, and ABS-CBN University, a corporate university focusing on business knowledge, managerial competencies, and task-oriented education to Kapamilya employees.
ABS-CBN goes digital!
ABS-CBN released ABS-CBN TVplus, the network’s digital TV offering, and ABS-CBN HD, the first free-to-air TV channel to broadcast in high definition.
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Never not innovating
2017 marked the airing of “Dahil May Isang Ikaw” (another Rosales and Hermosa-led show) in Caracol—Colombia’s biggest free-to-air TV Network. The year also made way for ABS-CBN’s launch of the customer loyalty program—“Kapamilya, Thank You,” and the online booking portal for watching everyone’s favorite Kapamilya shows, events, and studio tours—KTX.
Birth of new 'experiences'
ABS-CBN News was the only Philippine website that made it to the top 25 Facebook Publishers list in 2018. This also marked the year the network opened the ABS-CBN Studio Experience—the first studio city where anyone could live the life of their favorite Kapamilya onstage or behind the scenes. Late that year, iWant also went online as a streaming service, carrying hundreds of Kapamilya shows, films, and other features.
The year of film, TV, and books!
Star Cinema produced the Philippines' highest grossing film of all time in 2019—Hello, Love. Goodbye. ABS-CBN luanched ABS-CBN TVplus Go, a digital broadcast mobile receiver allowing Kapamilyas to catch shows on the go. ABS-CBN Books also came about, producing books celebrities themselves authored.
In the service of the Filipino, always
ABS-CBN News and ABS-CBN vast digital arm continued its commitment to responsible media coverage despite the COVID-19, with ABS-CBN even earnig nearly PHP 237 million from its fund-raising project for those hit with the lockdown called "Pantawid ng Pag-ibig." All this, as the network reached new heights on its social media platforms—20M likes on Facebook and 26M followers on YouTube, making ABS-CBN the most followed accounts on both.
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Banner image courtesy of ABS-CBN