ABS-CBN to create educational shows as PH shifts to distance-learning style during COVID-19 crisis

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2020 12:27 PM

FILE PHOTO: Children use a computer application to learn a module in English, March 7, 2017. ABS-CBN News

MANILA - ABS-CBN on Tuesday said it has formed a team that would create educational and child development programs as the government prepares to shift to distance-learning systems due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Philippines' largest media network has created a team "that would focus solely on how to use our media assets for education and child development," ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak told the Senate Committee on Public Services.

"Absolutely, we are willing to help the government in creating an educational program under the new normal," he said, after Sen. Francis Tolentino asked if the network is willing to participate in the government's push to air some lessons on radio and television while students are still barred from physically coming to schools.

Education officials and lawmakers earlier agreed to craft a "blended" educatioal system wherein students will learn from online, television, radio, and printed materials to avoid learners from converging in schools where the coronavirus can be easily transmitted.

A Senate hearing last week found that government channels PTV and IBC have yet to finalize a standard programming for Filipino students.

ABS-CBN, which holds about 40 percent of audience share, can help the government not only in producing educational programs for the distance-learning system, but also in disseminating information about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Senate Committee on Public Services vice chair Sherwin Gatchalian said.

"'Yan po para sakin ang pinakamabisa sa ngayon na malaman ng mga kababayan natin ano ang gagawin nila para maiwasan nila [ang COVID-19]," Gatchalian said.

ABS-CBN has produced educational shows for years. It popularized "Sineskwela," "Bayani," "Hiraya Manawari," "ATBP," "Epol Apple," and "Math Tinik."

While there are other TV channels and radio stations available in the Philippines, there are areas where ABS-CBN or DZMM "is the only network that can reach that far because of their technology," he said.

"In some areas in Aurora... Itong Bagyong Ambo lang nga, hindi sila nakakuha ng balita kaya hindi sila nakapag handa ng mabilis (Some people were not able to prepare immediately for Typhoon Ambo because there were not able to watch the news)," he said.

ABS-CBN's broadcast services were yanked off the air on May 5 after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order against the media giant despite assuring Congress that it would allow the network to operate beyond the expiry of its May 4 franchise.