The nucleus of ABS-CBN Corporation began in 1946 with Bolinao Electronics Corporation (BEC). BEC was established by James Lindenberg, one of the founding fathers of Philippine television, an American electronics engineer who went into radio equipment assembly and radio broadcasting. At that time, the largest media company was Manila Broadcasting, with DZRH as the leading radio station. In 1949, James Lindenberg shifted Bolinao to radio broadcasting with DZBC and masterminded the introduction of television to the country in 1953.
In 1951, Lindenberg partnered with Antonio Quirino, brother of then Philippine President Elpidio Quirino, in order to try their hand at television broadcasting. In 1952, BEC was renamed as Alto Broadcasting System or ABS (with Alto Sales Corporation as its corporate name). "Alto" was a contraction of Quirino’s and his wife’s first names, Tony and Aleli. Though they had little money and resources, ABS was able to put up its TV tower by July 1953 and import some 300 television sets. The initial test broadcasts began on September of the same year. The very first full-blown broadcast, however, was on October 23, 1953, of a party in Tony Quirino's home. The television station was known as DZAQ-TV.
In turn, on September 24, 1956, the Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN) was organized. The network was owned by Don Eugenio Lopez, Sr. and the then Philippine Vice President Fernando Lopez, and later on launched its very own TV station, DZXL-TV 9. The following year, Don Eugenio acquired ABS from Quirino and Lindenberg. However, it was only on February 1, 1967 that the corporate name was changed to ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation to reflect the merger (before it was named ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, the name was reverted to the precursor of the network, Bolinao Electronics Corporation or BEC, but the ABS-CBN brand was first used in 1961). In 1958 the network's new headquarters at Roxas Boulevard was inaugurated, and all radio and television operations were consolidated into its two buildings, the radio stations at the Chronicle Building at Aduana Street, Intramuros, Manila, and the TV operations at the brand new Roxas Boulevard building in Pasay City.
In the late 1950s, Don Eugenio's son, Geny Lopez saw the potential of TV and radio to reach and link Filipinos across the archipelago. By the mid-1960s, the ABS network was leading the radio industry, with stations like DZXL and DZAQ Radyo Patrol in the Manila area, which featured journalists like Ernie Baron, Bong Lapira, Orly Mercado, Joe Taruc, Mario Garcia, Bobby Guanzon, and Rey Langit, and various other stations nationwide. ABS also made breakthroughs in the TV industry by achieving the country's first color TV broadcast, first satellite feed (during remarkable events including the Man on the Moon, Ruby Tower collapse, interment of Robert Kennedy and the US Presidential Elections), and first use of videotape, among others. It featured top shows then, such as Your Evening with Pilita and Tawag ng Tanghalan, the country's first comedy show Buhay Artista, first Philippine gameshow, What's My Living and the first noontime show Student Canteen, among others. It was also pioneering in marathon election coverage in 1967 when the TV & radio stations of the network aired election updates for 36 hours sharp - making it a national first.
On June 15, 1961, Eugenio Lopez, Jr. built the first provincial TV station in Cebu (based in Mandaue) airing 4 hours with the tallest tower (in that time) measuring 216 feet. Within weeks, another TV station in Dagupan opened its doors followed by the first broadcasts in Negros Island (through Bacolod) in 1963. Western Visayas had its first station in Iloilo City in 1964 and Baguio and Davao followed suit in 1967.
Two years later, the network's first test color broadcasts began through the help of the Radio Corporation of America. Color broadcasts started in November 1966, the first in the Philippines and Southeast Asia as the network was tagged as the First in Color Television, with full color broadcasting beginning in 1971 at all national television stations.
On December 18, 1968, ABS-CBN opened its new Broadcast Center on Bohol Avenue (renamed as Sgt. Esguerra Avenue in 1989), Quezon City, where it still stands today. At the time, it was the most advanced facility of its kind in Asia. The station again made breakthroughs by using the first live satellite transmissions from abroad, foremost of which was the first moon landing in 1969 and in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico the year before. The network enjoyed a big portion of the ratings and won various awards and recognitions from different organizations. The network pioneered the first all-national news simulcasts also in the same year as well.
By 1972, the ABS-CBN network owned and operated two television stations and 7 radio stations in Manila, 14 radio stations and three television stations in the provinces.
The station suffered a setback upon the declaration of martial law. On midnight of September 22, 1972, a day after the declaration of Martial Law, ABS-CBN and its affiliate stations were seized. Geny Lopez, the president of the company, was imprisoned and held without trial for five years until he and his cellmate Sergio Osmeña III launched a daring jailbreak in 1977 and sought asylum in the United States together with his family. The network itself was taken over by Roberto Benedicto, a presidential crony, who used the Broadcasting Center at Bohol Avenue, then renamed as "Broadcast Plaza", as the home of MBS-4. Channel 2 would later be relaunched as the BBC-2, with a completely new logo, slogan and a theme song from Jose Mari Chan entitled "Big Beautiful Country" and sung by various artists. BBC-2 later moved to new headquarters in Broadcast City (also in Diliman, Quezon City) in 1978. The network's radio stations were also affected with BBC and Radio Philippines Network operating several of the stations.
At the height of the People Power Revolution, military reformists, believing that television would be a powerful tool to aid the revolution, attacked and took over the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center. On February 24, 1986, former ABS-CBN talents put the station back on the air and televised the drama of the unfolding uprising, thereby contributing to the strength of the revolt. BBC-2, on the other hand, ceased operations after reformists shut down its transmitter on the following day as Channel 2 frequency was turned over to the Lopezes on July 16, 1986.
On February 28, 1986, after the Revolution, Geny Lopez returned to the country after self-exile in the United States and started rebuilding from what was left of the station. Recovery was difficult and resources were low, hence, former ABS-CBN employees Freddie García, Ben Aniceto and Rolly Cruz was brought in to rework the station's programming. Thus, the channel began to rebroadcast to viewers once again starting September 14 of the same year. Aniceto, who worked as the Program Director for Radio and Television of the network and station manager of Channel 2 in the 1970s, was served as the first Vice President and General Manager of ABS-CBN upon the network's reopening from 1986 to 1987.
On March 1, 1987, Channel 2 was relaunched with the live musical special, The Star Network: Ang Pagbabalík Ng Bituin (The Return of the Star) which noted for the then-brand-new numerical white tri-ribbon channel 2 logo with a white rhombidal star (from 1988 to 1993 the ribbons were tri-coloured in red, green and blue) as a centerpiece of the network's revival. By 1988, ABS-CBN had regained its foothold in Philippine TV ratings from dead last (#5) to being number 1 again nationally - as a result of the rebranding.
Within the year, ABS-CBN also beefed up its news programmes with TV Patrol, anchored by a team of newsreaders composed of now former Vice-President Noli de Castro, Mel Tiangco, Frankie Evangelista, and Angelique Lazo, with the late Ernie Baron telling the daily weather forecast. Other reputable news programmes followed, such as Magandang Gabi, Bayan and Hoy Gising!. The entertainment programmes of ABS-CBN were also revamped with series that previously aired on RPN 9 and IBC 13: (Eat Bulaga!, Okey Ka Fairy Ko!, The Sharon Cuneta Show, Coney Reyes on Camera) while producing original content (The Maricel Soriano Drama Special, Palibhasa Lalake, Home Along Da Riles). Another feature of its return to the top of the ratings is the introduction of the live-action sentai and tokusatsu show formats from Japan (with Bioman, Goggle V Gavan and Shaider, the latter the first ever tokusatsu program to be aired in English and Filipino) to Philippine television full-time (after a brief appearance on RPN). Filipino-dubbed anime programmes, another network and Philippine television first, would only begin in the transition to the 1990s, and 1987's Hikari Sentai Maskman, aired by the network, was first ever sentai program to dub in Filipino.
Within months after the relaunch in Manila, the revived network also restarted regional programs and broadcasting starting in Baguio, Cebu, Bacolod and Davao (and later in Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro) and within the 1990s had also helped open new stations in other parts of the country, while reopening stations used before.
In early 1989, ABS-CBN shifted to satellite broadcast, enabling the entire country to watch the same programmes simultaneously. This was also the very year when the network began international broadcasts to Guam and Saipan, Northern Marianas, also via satellite, yet another first for Philippine and Asian television. At the same time the network began to increase the number of local TV programs being aired and produced.
Slowly, the station inched its way to financial recovery, which it achieved by 1990, regularly garnering around 70% of the market. In 1992, ABS-CBN Talent Center (now Star Magic) was formed and in 1993, ABS-CBN launched Star Cinema as the company began to diversify. In 1995, Star Records (now Star Music) was launched. In that year, ABS-CBN also launched their own website ABS-CBN.com, the first Filipino television network in the World Wide Web and was created by its IT department Internet Media Group (IMG, which later became ABS-CBN Interactive until its merger in 2015).
On March 30, 1998, ABS-CBN Holdings Corporation was incorporated as Worldtech Holdings Corporation for the primary purpose of issuance of Philippine Depository Receipt (PDR) and the acquisition and holding of shares of ABS-CBN Corporation. Its Philippine depository receipt (PDR) is traded in the Philippine Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ABSP.
Geny Lopez died of cancer on June 29, 1999 in the United States. This happened six months before the network celebrated the millennium by unveiling a new logo and inaugurating its Millennium Transmitter in the corporation grounds, resulting in a more clear signal for its television and radio stations in Mega Manila.
On May 27, 2010, the conglomerate dropped the word "Broadcasting" from its corporate name.
Since the 1990s, ABS-CBN has expanded into various successful media and entertainment ventures such as talent development and management (Star Magic), film and television production and distribution (Star Cinema), music and video recording, publishing, and distribution (Star Music), print publishing (ABS-CBN Publishing), new media (ABS-CBN Digital Media), pay TV (ABS-CBN Cable Channels), international television distribution (ABS-CBN Global), telecommunications (ABS-CBN Convergence, San Francisco International Gateway, and Sky Cable), sports programming (ABS-CBN Sports), post-production (RoadRunner; dissolved in 2013), home TV shopping (O Shopping), and theme park (Play Innovations).
On September 24, 1994, ABS-CBN signed a historic deal with PanAmSat to bring the first trans-Pacific Asian programming to some two million Filipino immigrants in United States. This deal would later gave birth to The Filipino Channel which is now available globally.
The company has also syndicated its programs for international audience through its ABS-CBN International Distribution division. Among the programs that gained popularity abroad are Pangako Sa 'Yo, Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay, Lobo, Sana Maulit Muli, Kahit Isang Saglit, and Be Careful With My Heart.
ABS-CBN had a failed venture in online gaming industry in the Philippines through its now defunct subsidiary ABS-CBN Multimedia, Inc. The subsidiary was the owner of Get Amped and Amped Casual Games, the Philippine operator of Tantra Online, War Rock, Cronous, Ragnarok Online, and PopCap Games. Another failed venture was the 5 million dollar deal with the now defunct social network site Multiply.
In 2005, ABS-CBN International acquired the Richmond, California-based telecommunications port company San Francisco International Gateway from Loral Space & Communications. San Francisco International Gateway provides satellite communications services through its 2.5 acre facility consisting of 19 satellite dish antennas and 9 modular equipment buildings.
In 2007, ABS-CBN International launched Myx, the first and the only Asian-American youth music channel in the United States. It was later reformatted in 2011 to become a general entertainment channel targeted to the Asian-Americans.
In 2008, ABS-CBN International opened its state-of-the-art studio in Redwood City, California.
In 2003, during the 50th anniversary of Philippine television, ABS-CBN launched its present brand name, "Kapamilya" (literally means "a member of the family").
Its international unit ABS-CBN Global Ltd. plans to undertake an initial public offering (IPO) the following year and might list on the Singapore Stock Exchange to help finance its expansion plans.
The network celebrated its golden anniversary in 2003. The network held its Kapamilya Homecoming, which gathered over 4,000 former employees and talents for a grand reunion at ABS-CBN’s compound in Bohol Avenue, Quezon City. The network also launched a promo called "Treasure Hunt", where the people were invited to bring their oldest television, radio sets, microphones, and posters. The network also celebrated its 16th year reign in the TV ratings, with 13 of their shows included in the Top 15 daily programs in TV. ABS-CBN also launched new shows such as the then phenomenal Meteor Garden etc. The company also did a nationwide caravan, showcasing the network's talents.
In October 19, 2003, the network held a month-long celebration of ABS-CBN and Philippine TV's 50th year. The station produced two commemorative documentaries about the station's contribution in news and entertainment. Sa Mata ng Balita encapsulated some of the most unforgettable, most remarkable, and most celebrated landmarks of the last 50 years as captured by television news. 50 Taong Ligawan: The Pinoy TV History, on the other hand, was the first extensive television documentary done about the history of Philippine Television and the evolution of Philippine entertainment. For the celebration's finale, the broadcasting giant capped its 50th anniversary with a spectacular extravaganza dubbed as Kapamilya: ABS-CBN at 50, held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. It was hailed as one of the biggest media events of the year. The Lopez-led network rolled out the red carpet to welcome its high-profile guests from the business, advertising and media sectors, politics, members of the diplomatic community, with many of the society’s luminaries and glitterati. Valued friends and supporters of the network throughout the five decades also attended the grand affair. The network's official 50 Years station ID won an Award for Excellence in the 2004 Golden Quill Festival.
In 2008, ABS-CBN celebrated the 55th year of Philippine television. A new station ID entitled "Beyond Television" was launched. The anniversary TV plug depicts the growth of ABS-CBN from a small television station that started in 1953 into a media conglomerate that has businesses beyond television. It is also on this year that The Wall Street Journal Asia ranked ABS-CBN as the 7th most admired company of the Philippines and 3rd in the Innovation Award category for its innovation in internet TV with the now defunct TFC Now! service.
On April 26, 2009, ABS-CBN is the only media company to be cited as one of the country's top 15 listed companies in corporate governance, as shown by an annual survey of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD). It was the only media company to garner a score of 90 percent or higher in the 2008 Corporate Governance Scorecard, a survey of corporate governance practices among 172 publicly listed companies in the country.
In 2011, ABS-CBN announced the development of a state-of-the-art studio complex in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan for a projected cost of 6 to 7.5 billion pesos. A 15 hectare lot in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan was acquired earlier that year for 75 million pesos. In 2014, it was announced that the studio complex will consist of 10 sound stages and backlots. The company plan to build at least two sound stages a year for a cost of 600 million pesos or 300 million pesos for each sound stage.
On January 1, 2013, Charo Santos-Concio was appointed as the new chief executive officer of the company taking over Gabby Lopez. Lopez remains the chairman of the company.
On May 28, 2013, ABS-CBN Corporation, through its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc. (formerly known as Multi-Media Telephony, Inc.), signed a network sharing agreement with Globe Telecom for a new mobile telephony service in the country. The agreement includes the sharing of assets including switches, towers, servers, and frequencies. ABS-CBN is expected to spend between 2 and 3 billion pesos for the next two years to build up its telco business. The plan have been approved by the National Telecommunications Commission and now operates as ABS-CBNmobile.
In July 2013, ABS-CBN started the development of KidZania Manila family entertainment center in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
On May 30, 2014, ABS-CBN and its current president and CEO Charo Santos-Concio received the Gold Stevie Awards for the categories Services Company of the Year - Philippines and Woman of the Year at the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards held in Lotte Hotel, Seoul, South Korea. ABS-CBN also received the coveted Gold Stevie Awards for the category Company of the Year - Media & Entertainment at the 11th annual International Business Awards (IBA) which was held in Paris, France in October 10. As a result of the win, ABS-CBN also won the vote-based People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Companies in the Media and Entertainment Category, while their chairman Eugenio Lopez III received the lifetime achievement award from the KBP.
On March 19, 2015, Finance Asia ranked ABS-CBN as the third best mid-cap company in the Philippines. ABS-CBN is the only Filipino media company included on Asia's best companies 2015 list of Finance Asia. Also in this year, ABS-CBN was included on the 2015 Top Companies report of JobStreet.com which rank the country's top employers. ABS-CBN is ranked 7th on the list.
On January 1, 2016, Carlo L. Katigbak was appointed as the new president and chief executive officer of the company taking over Charo Santos-Concio who have succeeded her mandatory retirement age of 60. Concio will still be the network's chief content officer, president of the newly created ABS-CBN University, and executive adviser to the chairman of the company. One month later, the network also announced the appointment of Head for Free TV Maria Socorro Vidanes as the COO for broadcast of ABS-CBN effective February 1, 2016.
In 2016, ABS-CBN Corporation is the only media company included on the top ten 2016 Top Companies of JobStreet.com in the Philippines ranking at number ten. These companies are chosen by JobStreet.com as the "most desired employers" in the country.
The ABS-CBN logo features three main elements, the vertical line rooted on a horizontal origin, the three extending circles, and the text ABS-CBN. The vertical line or bar represents a tower (broadcasting tower) as well as dignifying the company and representing its core business of broadcasting, with the circles symbolizing a transmitter tower's signals, and representing the red, green and blue or RGB colors which makes up a pixel shown on the television. The 3 divisions of the Philippines, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, are also denoted by the three circles, as well as its wide presence, “range for imagination”, and its “pioneering, embracing” spirit.
One unique thing about ABS-CBN's logo is that it has a horizontal version, usually used to save space as the main vertical logo usually takes up more space than the horizontal one. The design of the horizontal version of the logo contains the ABS-CBN text, split into two parts, "ABS" and "CBN", without the dash connecting them, and ABS-CBN's iconic symbol squeezed in between them.
The first logo to have a horizontal version going by this design was the logo launched in 1986, the year they relaunched their operations after 14 years of hibernation under martial law and Marcos' authoritarian rule. From 1986 up until 2014, the elements of the horizontal logo, the text and the symbol, were evenly sized. In the 2014 version of the horizontal logo, the symbol of ABS-CBN was squeezed in between was slightly larger than the ABS and CBN names.
Since 1969, the network has started using a channel logo beginning on DZAQ-TV with the early channel 2 logo for use as a promotion from 1969 to 1972 as The Family Channel. The frequency was later awarded to BBC as DWWX-TV from 1973 to 1986, and had a different logo used. Channel 2 is currently used as the frequency of the flagship station of ABS-CBN in Metro Manila.
ABS-CBN introduced an innovation to the channel 2 logo from 1986 to 1992. At first, the channel 2 logo is introduced into ABS-CBN, after the dissolution of BBC in March. The features of the first channel 2 logo is a wing-shaped blue crest with a white curve at the top and a white line as a tail, the Broadway 2 logo was used from 1986 to 1987. It has a slogan name Watch Us Do It Again! as the station ID aired since the network's revival.
After six months of carefully selected plans, the first tri-ribbon 2 logo laced with a rhomboidal star came to be on March 1, 1987. The tri-ribbon 2 logo's color is white carried the slogan The Star Network when it aired as a station ID to reclaim the dominance in TV ratings. By 1988, the ribbons in the tri-ribbon 2 logo are tri-colored with red, green and blue. Truly, the tri-ribbon 2 logo was accidentally coming from a shooting star in the form of 2. Similarly, most numerical channel logos within this slogan have a star and versions came into regional TV channels like 3 (DYCB-TV in Cebu and D-3-ZO-TV in Baguio), 4 (DYXL-TV in Bacolod and DXAS-TV in Davao) and other regional stations. The tri-ribbon was also used on microphone flags until 2000, the celebration of the New Millennium.
The Sarimanok, a legendary bird in Philippine Folklore was first used in 1966 to identify color broadcasts (somewhat similar on how the NBC peacock has been utilized). In 1993, which happens to be the Chinese Year of the Rooster, ABS-CBN relaunched the Sarimanok with a new station ID featuring the legendary bird. The Sarimanok ID became utmostly associated with the channel that ABS-CBN opted it to become the station's mascot. ABS-CBN later named its new 24-hour news channel the Sarimanok News Network, the precursor of the ABS-CBN News Channel. It was revived again in 2004 to promote regional broadcasts nationwide.
The logo of pre-merger Alto Broadcasting System had a symbol composed of a transmitter with a circle denoting its signals, a precursor of sorts to ABS-CBN's current logos. The logo of pre-merger Chronicle Broadcasting Network, on the other hand, had three blocks and the CBN letters in them. In 1961, the ABS-CBN brand was introduced and its first logo had a big letter B, unifying the names ABS and CBN, in a box placed between their channel numbers 3 (ABS' DZAQ-TV) and 9 (CBN's DZXL-TV).
A modified version of ABS' symbol was launched in 1963, composed of a triangle denoting a transmitter tower and four circles denoting its signals (in the same vein as the 1953 logo), enclosed in a rounded box and with the ABS-CBN text above, in a form that would evolve over the years. The logo soon after took on its current iteration—a vertical line, denoting a transmitter tower, with three concentric circles signifying Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, enclosed in a square frame, in 1967. At that time, it was rendered in black and white because color TV (despite the fact that it was ABS-CBN that introduced it the previous year) wasn't common yet and the logo style at that time separated ABS and CBN's names, putting ABS' name on top and CBN's on the bottom.
The network used a colored variation of the 1967 logo when they relaunched operations in 1986, after 14 years of forced closure under martial law. The logo had the three rings detached from the transmitter and colored the three rings in red, green, and blue, and substituted the square frame with an outlined black box. The RGB-colored logo has remained relatively unchanged since then, though two modifications in 1993 (the 40th anniversary of Philippine TV) and 1996 (ABS-CBN's 50th corporate anniversary) saw minor tweaks in the letters and the rings and box.
January 1, 2000 (the first day of the new millennium) saw a significantly revamped version of the logo. In this version, the outlined black box that enclosed the three rings and the vertical line (that maintained their 1996 design) was replaced by a grey square (a crystal plane when rendered in 3D) and the ABS and CBN names joined together to form ABS-CBN's name, now situated below the symbol. The ABS-CBN letters were also given a completely revamped look.
The present logo, launched in 2014, is a minimally altered version of the 2000 logo, greatly modifying the "ABS-CBN" text, dropping the once-standard serifs on the letters, giving the three RGB rings thicker width and perfected concentricity, and adopting a white square instead of a black or grey one. The rebranding aims to maintain the iconic structure of ABS-CBN's logo while at the same time giving it a new look suited for a period of popularity for social and digital media.