Television in the Philippines was introduced in 1953. But even before that, a number of academic experiments had been done and replicated by Filipino engineering students.



James Lindenberg, an American engineer dubbed as the "father of Philippine television," began assembling transmitters and established the Bolinao Electronics Corporation (BEC) on June 26, 1946. It was named after his wife's hometown of Bolinao, Pangasinan. Three years later, he was the first to apply for a license in Philippine Congress to establish a television station. After a year, on June 14, 1950, his request was granted. Due to the scarcity of raw materials and strict import control since 1948, he was compelled to branch into radio broadcasting instead.[1]

Lindenberg's attempt to put up a television station did not go to waste. Judge Antonio Quirino, the brother of President Elpidio Quirino, had been trying to get a license from Congress that would allow him to put up a television station. The Congress, however, denied him from getting such license for the fear that he might use it as vehicles for propaganda for his brother who was then running for a second term in the Presidential elections of 1953. Because of this, he bought 70-percent share of BEC stocks,[1] which earned him to control the franchise indirectly. He then changed the name of BEC to Alto Broadcasting System (ABS), after the names of its new owners, Aleli and Judge Antonio Quirino. James Lindenberg, was still part-owner, and had served as the general manager of the station.[1]

Before the TV station was formally launched, it faced several obstacles. The Central Bank, for instance, refused to grant Judge Quirino dollar credit from the bank, saying that the said venture was too risky. For this reason, Judge Quirino asked help from his friend Marvin Gray, whose family is a friend of General Sarnoff, who was then the President of Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Through the intervention of Gray, Judge Quirino was able to get assistance from RCA.

Prior to the fist telecast, Judge Quirino initiated the importation of 120 television sets through the Php 60,000 loan that he received from the owner of Joe's Electric, who was, in turn, became the first to be bestowed with the right to sell television sets in the country.[1]

Finally, on October 23, 1953, Judge Quirino marked the first official telecast in the Philippines through the launching of DZAQ-TV Channel 3. With the help of RCA, four men underwent technical training in the United States:

  • Arcadio "Cady" Carandang, who was in charge of setting up a TV service company;
  • Romualdo "Romy" Carballo, who oversaw the transmission aspect;
  • Harry "Slim" Chaney, who acted as a spark plug for the whole operation, and
  • Jose "Joe" Navarro, who learned filming techniques in television.[1]

The ABS studio was a makeshift barn along Florentino Torres Street in Manila. With the transmitter acquired from RCA, the telecasts were received clearly not only in Manila but also in the neighboring provinces. Except for the four engineers who was sent to the US for training, most of the personnel at ABS learned TV operations on the job.

DZAQ-TV3 started out on a four-hour a day schedule, from six to ten in the evening. Although ABS was able to round up fifty-two advertisers for the premier telecast, selling spots for regular programming had proven to be difficult since buying radio ad spots was more cost-effective for advertisers. During this time, TV sets costs less than an automobile, and TV reception depended on electrical power, which was not always available.[1]

The programs being telecast at that time were usually borrowed films from the foreign embassies, imported old cowboy movies, and actual coverage of a variety of events. When the station ran out of presenting any new feature, stage plays were transported to television. In 1953, less than a month after the first telecast, Father James Reuter, a Jesuit with radio and television training in the United States, produced the first play on Philippine television entitled Cyrano de Bergerac. The said three-hour long play was done live, and all the talents were students.[1]

In the beginning, Philippine TV networks would buy the rights of airing mediocre American TV programs and serials since it was cheaper than producing local shows. In order to entice advertisers as well as to encourage increased viewership, simultaneous airing of programs on radio and television resorted to promotional gimmicks. Many popular radio shows, including, Tawag ng Tanghalan, Kuwentong Kutsero, and Student Canteen, started their life on TV this way.[1]

In 1955, Radiowealth began manufacturing television sets. Other local outfits such as, Carlsound and Rehco, also started setting up assembly plants. In 1958, the high taxes previously imposed on canned television shows were removed, which made US shows less expensive than live shows. In April of the same year, another TV network opened, and this was the Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN), established as a radio medium in 1956 by businessmen Eugenio and Fernando Lopez. In the same year, CBN brought ABS from Judge Quirino, and merged the two companies under the name Bolinao Electronics Corporation,[1] which was incidentally the former name of ABS.

With the establishment of DZXL-TV Channel 9 on April 19, 1958, the Lopez brothers controlled both television channels nationwide. On November 14, 1969, DZAQ-TV transferred to channel 2, while its sister station DZXL-TV transferred to channel 4.

Rising popularityEdit

At the turn of the next decade, TV sets became the most sellable appliance in the urban areas.[1] Also within this period, other VHF TV stations opened. These include the following:

Among the top rated programs in the 1960s were The Nida-Nestor Show, Buhay Artista, and Pancho Loves Tita. Another local show that has had a prevailing top rating is Tawag ng Tanghalan, the amateur singing contest hosted by Lopito and Patsy.

On February 1, 1967, the corporate name of BEC was changed to ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation. Also, during this year, Radiowealth pioneered in the production of 19-, 21- and 25-inch models of color TV sets. Moreover, it was favored by advertisers like Procter and Gamble, Philippine Refining Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Del Rosario Brothers, and Caltex Philippines.

In 1969, Filipinos witnessed the live television coverage of the Apollo 11 historic landing. It was the first telecast via satellite in the country and the first in color. Channels 5, 7 and 13 tied up for the said project.[1] In the same year, RPN-9 (later ETC) introduced the longest running and consistently rating sitcom, John En Marsha and the First Family of Philippine television, the Puruntongs. These sitcoms were created by Ading Fernando, and it starred Dolphy and Nida Blanca.

By the late 1960s, news and public affairs programs were pioneered by Channels 2 and 5. The Big News on ABC Channel 5 (later TV5) and The World Tonight on ABS-CBN Channel 2 were the first news programs on Philippine television.

By 1971, the Philippines, through Radiowealth, had become the third country in the world to manufacture color TV sets.[1]

Marcos era and martial lawEdit

When the Philippines was placed under martial rule, Marcos ordered the take over of media firms. Government troops entered radio and television stations, and they were placed under military control. All media outlets that were critical of the Marcos administration were padlocked and sequestered.

DZXL-TV Channel 4 of ABS-CBN was seized by the Office of Press Secretary Francisco Tatad and the National Media Production Center of Gregorio Cendaña and was renamed DWGT-TV Channel 4, the government channel. DWKB-TV Channel 9 and DZTV-TV Channel 13 were eventually controlled by the then Ambassador Roberto Benedicto, and Bob Stewart’s DZBB-TV Channel 7 was later allowed to operate with limited three-month permits. ABS-CBN was seized from the Lopez family, and Eugenio Lopez Jr., then president of ABS-CBN, was imprisoned. By the latter part of 1973, GMA Network was sold to Felipe Gozon the family lawyer of Stewart because foreigners are not allowed to own businesses in the Philippines, who later changed the name from RBS to Global Media Arts, or simply GMA Network, popularly known as GMA-7.[2]

After ABS-CBN's DZXL-TV Channel 9 moved to Channel 4 in 1969, the Channel 9 frequency was used by the Roberto Benedicto-owned Kanlaon Broadcasting System (KBS). However, when a fire destroyed the KBS television studios in Pasay, Benedicto's people took control of the ABS-CBN studios in Bohol Avenue, Quezon City. ABS-CBN, as a network, ceased operations for 14 years, and its studios became the broadcasting venues of new channels, MBS-4. A year later, Salvador "Buddy" Tan, general manager of KBS, reopened Channel 2 as the Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation.

The two Benedicto stations namely, KBS Channel 9 and BBC Channel 2, served as vehicles of propaganda for the government. In 1980, Channels 2, 9 and 13 moved to the newly-built Broadcast City in Diliman, Quezon City. In the same year, Gregorio Cendaña was named Minister of Information. DWGT-TV Channel 4 became known as Maharlika Broadcasting System.

Initially, the Department of Public Information, reviewed everything that was to be aired on radio and TV set up the rules and regulations. Through other government agencies, policies on ownership, allocation of frequencies, station distribution, and program standards were promulgated. In 1973, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas was created, and this agency allowed for self-regulation. A year later, a presidential decree created the Broadcast Media Council.

The 1974 Miss Universe Pageant, the 1975 Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier heavyweight fight, the 1981 visit of Pope John Paul II was shown worldwide, and it made a false impression that everything was doing well in the country. When Benigno Aquino was assassinated in 1983, it was a small item on television news. During his historic funeral procession, GMA-7 was allowed by only ten seconds of airtime coverage.[1]

In 1984, Imee Marcos, daughter of Ferdinand Marcos, tried to take over GMA-7 but she was successfully prevented by GMA executives, Menardo Jimenez and Felipe Gozon. Disappointed with the Marcos dictatorship, Stewart left the Philippines.[1]

Restoration and expansion Edit

In 1986, during the People Power Revolution which ironned the rule of Marcos regime, ABS-CBN was returned after BBC, RPN, and IBC were sequestered by the Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG), in turn awarded BBC through an executive order, RPN and IBC turned over to Government Communications Group.

MBS Channel 4 later became PTV 4 (People's Television) after the EDSA Revolution, and in 2001, it is now known as the National Broadcasting Network (NBN), in turn renamed back to the People's Television Network in 2011.

ABC returns to broadcast in 1992. In 2008, ABC renamed as TV5.

IBC later became a 100% government owned station in the 1990s by virtue of a compromise agreement between PCGG and Roberto Benedicto, management and marketing were returned to the IBC Board of Directors.

In 1998, ZOE TV was finally launched on channel 11. Currently known as QTV and on February 2011, QTV renamed as GMA News TV.

During the middle 1990s to 2000s, many UHF stations were launched such as, SBN 21/Solar News Channel 21, Studio 23, Net 25, Citynet 27, RJTV 29/2nd Avenue, BEAM 31/Jack City, UNTV 37, AksyonTV 41 among others.

In the 21st century, Philippine dramas began to be exported to other Asian and non-Asian countries. The following are the dramas aired internationally: My Binondo Girl, Tayong Dalawa, Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin, Sana Maulit Muli, Pangako Sa'Yo, Lobo, Dahil May Isang Ikaw, Kahit Isang Saglit, Magkaribal, Ikaw Ang Lahat Sa Akin, Katorse, Maging Sino Ka Man, Gulong ng Palad, Impostor, Kay Tagal Kitang Hinintay, Prinsesa ng Banyera, Walang Hanggan, Calla Lily, Saan Ka Man Naroroon, Spirits, Crazy for You, 'Til Death Do Us Part, It Might Be You, Kampanerang Kuba, Kung Fu Kids, Iisa Pa Lamang, Budoy, Imortal, Mara Clara, My Girl, Sa Piling Mo, Super Inggo, Palos, Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas, Marina, Darating Ang Umaga, Vietnam Rose, Panday, Bituin, Krystala, and Bituing Walang Ningning. All of which are produced by ABS-CBN, the country's biggest media outlet.

In 2012, Eat Bulaga! is the first Philippine Variety Show to be franchised in another country. Its first franchise is Eat Bulaga! Indonesia.

In the year 2013, dramas in high definition were beginning to bloom. Be Careful With My Heart, a hit morning show aired by ABS-CBN, was the first series to be aired in HD. Following this, several primetime shows and afternoon blocks were also aired in HD such as Juan Dela Cruz, My Little Juan (Prequel to Juan Dela Cruz), Dugong Buhay, and Muling Buksan ang Puso.

Free-to-Air Television NetworksEdit

  • ABS-CBN Corporation (ABS-CBN): On October 23, 1953, the then-Alto Broadcasting System (ABS) launched DZAQ-TV Channel 3, while in Fernando and Eugenio Lopez launced then-Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN) as DZXL-TV Channel 9 on April 19, 1958, the Lopez brothers controlled both television channels nationwide. In 1967, the corporate name was changed to ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation for its merging companies. DZAQ-TV transferred to channel 2, while its sister station DZXL-TV transferred to channel 4. Nowadays, ABS-CBN is on VHF channel 2, while channel 4 is now controlled by state-broadcaster People's Television Network after the EDSA People Power Revolution, that was event after these channels sequestered by Ferdinand Marcos' cronies.
  • Associated Broadcasting Company (ABC): Launched DZTM-5 in 1960 by Chino Roces of Manila Times. In 1972, ABC shut down due to martial law by then-President Ferdinand Marcos. But in February 1992, ABC relaunced channel 5 and became the fastest-growing network in the 1990's. In 2008, the channel changed its name to TV5.
  • GMA Network, Inc. (GMA): Launched DZBB-7 in 1961 by Robert Stewart, American journalist of its former name Republic Broadcasting System, then changed its channel name to GMA Radio-Television Arts in 1974. GMA became one of the instrumental during the People Power Revolution in 1986 and became top stations in the country. Now, the RBS corporate name shifted to GMA Network Inc. in 1996.
  • Radio Philippine Network (RPN): Launched in 1969 as DZKB-9 by Kanlaon Broadcastion System of Roberto Benedicto, RPN was sequestered by the Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG) in 1989 together with IBC. RPN entered a partnership with Solar Entertainment and consider privatizing the station, RPN have its blocktime programs carrying ETC Channel up to present.
  • People's Television Network (PTV): DWGT-TV 4, established in 1974, run by the Government Television, the name changed to Maharlika Broadcastion System (MBS) during Marcos' era and changed to People's Television (PTV) after People Power Revolution. In 2001, it changed its name to National Brodcasting Network (NBN) and reverted it to PTV in 2011.
  • Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC): DZTV-TV 13 in 1977, run by Andres Soriano. In 1989, it was sequestered together with RPN.

Digital television Edit

Main article: Digital television in the Philippines

The National Telecommunications Commission of the Philippines announced that the country will use the Japanese ISDB.

Pay television Edit

The largest cable television provider in the Philippines is Sky Cable Corporation, a subsidiary of the Filipino media conglomerate ABS-CBN Corporation which owns SkyCable, Global Destiny Cable, MyDestiny Cable, Home Cable, Sun Cable and UniCable. Sky Cable started digitizing its services to stop further data piracy as well as customized plan and high-definition television. Sky Cable operate provincially through its sister Pilipino Cable Corporation.

In 2006, digital cable was launched. This not only made additional channels possible but also pre-paid cable service. Both companies also offer cable internet where cable television is bundled either free or at a discount.

Besides cable, direct-to-home satellite is offered through Dream Satellite TV, Cignal and G-Sat and has pre-paid variants as well.

Mobile and internet TV may also offered such as WatchPad, MyGMA, TFC Now, Sandbox, myTV and iWanTV.

See alsoEdit

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