‘Heartbreaking’: How DZMM TeleRadyo’s pending closure is affecting Pinoys

May 23, 2023 - 5:31 PM
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ABS-CBN employee
An ABS-CBN employee wearing a protective face mask works in a control room at the broadcast network's headquarters, following orders by telecoms regulator to cease its operations in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, May 6, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Some Filipinos shared their fondest memories involving the decades-long news radio station DZMM TeleRadyo after the decision to cease operations by June was announced on Tuesday.

Broadcasting giant ABS-CBN announced that it has “no choice” but to halt the operations of its popular news channel by June 30, 2023 “to prevent business losses.”

It added that TeleRadyo “has been incurring financial losses since 2020,” the year that ABS-CBN was denied to renew its broadcasting franchise in Congress following supposed violations which various government agencies have already cleared.

“The company is deeply saddened by this closure and having to part ways with the many passionate and committed people who made TeleRadyo an important source of news and information for many Filipinos,” ABS-CBN said in a statement on May 23.

The network also said that it is entering a new venture with Romualdez-led Prime Media Holdings Inc.

“The new company will produce various programs, which will be supplied to broadcasters and other 3rd party platforms including Philippine Collectivemedia Corporation. Under the agreement, ABS-CBN will have a minority stake in the joint venture, and Prime Media Inc. will be the majority stakeholder,” the Kapamilya network said.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first cousin, is Prime Media Holdings’s majority stakeholder. He was also among the 70 legislators who voted to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise in Congress.

READ: Who’s who: A rundown of votes during ABS-CBN franchise renewal final hearing

ABS-CBN, meanwhile, said that the new venture will give some of its former personnel “a chance to find job opportunities.”

“It is also a way to continue providing accurate and balanced news and information to the country,” it added.

All of TeleRadyo’s employees would be retrenched following the move.

TeleRadyo briefly went off-air after ABS-CBN was issued a cease-and-desist order by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on May 5, 2020.

The AM radio station went back online three days later. It has been streaming live on YouTube and Facebook since June 2021.

Launched in 2007, TeleRadyo is home to programs such as “Kabayan with Noli de Castro,” “Headline Pilipinas,” “SR.O,” and “Dr. Love Always and Forever,” among others.

Following the announcement of its pending closure as a pure ABS-CBN brand, media workers and other Filipinos took a nostalgia trip as they shared how the long-running radio station impacted their lives.

“Genuinely sad hearing this. Teleradyo was my go-to news monitoring platform when I started out as breaking news editor in 2009. ‘Yung TV sa likod ko sa Port Area office namin is just set to it for the majority of my shift,” Philstar.com sports editor Dino Maragay tweeted with a broken heart emoji.

“It was on @DZMMTeleRadyo where I did my first live TV report last year, reporting on the gubernatorial dispute between Roel Degamo and Pryde Henry Teves in Negros Oriental,” ABS-CBN digital journalist Raffy Cabristante said.

“It was something I’ve always wanted to do for a long time, and it was through TeleRadyo that it got realized. Sad to know that it will be ceasing operations by the end of June. Mahigpit na yakap sa mga Kapamilya ng TeleRadyo,” he added.

“My heart goes to @DZMMTeleRadyo and the family I left behind there… You see, I started my career with DZMM 630khz as a monitoring assistant 15 years ago back when Teleradyo was still on test broadcast,” former TeleRadyo reporter Zandro Ochona tweeted.

“I remember running the visual component of my explanatory special reports using Powerpoint, manually pressing enter as my story progresses. As I move up my career as a journalist, I was given so much opportunity to hone my talent from being a production and technical assistant, researcher and eventually Radyo Patrol 48, my call-sign. Kapit lang mga Kapamilya, isang mahigpit na yakap,” he added.

“Suking guest political analyst ako ng Teleradyo since 2015. I’ve always thought that it’s the most appropriate platform for my contribution to political discourse and civic education. This is a huge loss,” Asian Politics & Policy editor Aries Arugay wrote.

“This is not a good day for many of our Angkols and Anteys na naging listening at viewing habit nila ang TeleRadyo. [sad emoticon] My dad watches a lot of programs here. Fave niya ‘yung commentary show nila Alvin Elchico at Doris Bigornia every night,” a Twitter user said.

“End of an era [broken heart emoji] Memories, dito pa naman ako kumukuha ng news dati kung may pasok o wala,” another Pinoy tweeted.

“This is another big loss to the Philippine media, lalo na sa public service and disaster coverage. For years, we’ve witnessed how the people of DZMM kept their slogan ‘una sa balita, una sa public service’ so close to their hearts, mounting life-risking coverages from left and right,” tweeted a different Filipino.

“We’ve seen how they stay up all day and night just to deliver news to millions of Filipino people whatever platform may be available to them — radio, tv, or social media. Kayo pa rin ang tunay na himpilan ng malayang mamamayan, DZMM. Maraming salamat sa higit tatlong dekada,” he added.

Ging Reyes, ABS-CBN’s longest-serving news chief who retired last year, also shared her sentiments following TeleRadyo’s closure as a pure Kapamilya brand.

“This is heartbreaking. I’m thinking of my #Teleradyo team today. You all did everything you could — to keep delivering news [and] information in the face of monumental challenges. Don’t let anyone or anything crush your spirit,” she tweeted.

Three years ago, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government under the Duterte administration ordered ABS-CBN’s free TV and radio broadcasts to go off the air following the expiration of its franchise.

It left 11,000 individuals jobless, while millions of Filipinos lost a source of crucial and timely information as the nation faced catastrophic disasters and continued to deal with a public health crisis.

When the country’s first typhoon for 2020 wreaked havoc, some checkpoint authorities in the Aurora Province expressed concern over the means to get information, claiming that ABS-CBN was the only network that reached their area.

Nearly two years after the shutdown, the NTC allowed the network’s broadcast frequencies to be used by other private broadcasting entities.

ABS-CBN, meanwhile, found alternative ways to air their programs.

According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the network’s content is airing in nearly 50 channels but this is only a third of its previous reach.