ABS-CBN Corp. and TV5 Network Inc. said Wednesday they have postponed the planned 2.16 billion peso investment deal amid opposition from some lawmakers and the National Telecommunications Commission.
The two broadcast networks said they had agreed to “suspend closing preparations” on ABS-CBN’s investment for a 35% stake in TV5 owned by Metro Pacific Group’s MediaQuest Holdings Inc. “to resolve the issues that have been raised by some regulators and CNT.”
The 2.16 billion peso investment agreement between ABS-CBN and TV5 was due to close this month, “subject to obtaining applicable regulatory approvals”.
“This pause will give both media the space to respond to issues and adapt to any relevant changes to the terms,” ABS-CBN said.
“ABS-CBN and TV5 believe that an agreement between the two media companies will have a positive impact on Philippine media and free-to-air television, which remains the most affordable and broadest source of entertainment and public service for consumers. Filipinos,” ABS-CBN said.
SAGIP party list representative Rodante Marcoleta previously asked the Philippine Competition Commission and the National Telecommunications Commission to investigate the joint venture between ABS-CBN and TV5 to prevent a monopoly or consolidation of market power that would reduce competition in the market.
TV5 President Manuel Pangilinan in a recent interview denied the monopoly allegation, saying the network was still small compared to the other network, referring to GMA Network Inc.
“Maliit on TV5. I don’t know why people [think] it’s a big media organization. Its turnover this year will be, I think, slightly less than 2 billion pesos. We’re a long way from GMA, probably less than 10% of their revenue,” he said.
Terry Ridon, head of Infrawatch PH, said the transaction between TV5 and ABS-CBN “does not require prior Congressional approval as it does not involve the sale of TV5’s controlling shares to another entity.”
“Furthermore, we believe this transaction is not a competition issue, as the two entities are not the dominant players in the broadcast industry,” he said.
Tiron said the transaction would not violate any NTC regulations, as ABS-CBN has more than sufficiently demonstrated that it has no outstanding obligations to any government agency.
“The new government should take note that this transaction is entirely separate from the concession procedure of the previous government, and if they are truly committed to their call for unity among our people, they should step aside and let this transaction continue. and allow all voices to flow, no matter how troublesome or discordant those voices may be,” Tiron said.
In 2020, the NTC ordered ABS-CBN to cease operations after its congressional franchise expired. Republic Act No. 7966, which granted ABS-CBN a 25-year franchise to operate television and radio stations, expired on May 4, 2020.
The Radio Control Act prohibits the operation of a radio station without a congressional franchise.