GMA Network not entertaining investors for now
GMA Network Inc. is closing the door, for now, to potential investors as it launches new initiatives, including the nationwide rollout of its digital television platform, its Chairman and CEO Felipe Gozon said on Wednesday.
“I am not entertaining [investors] at this point,” Gozon, one of GMA’s three major shareholders who usually takes the lead in negotiations with buyers, told reporters on the sidelines of the company’s annual meeting. “We are creating value first before we sell.”
Gozon said the company, which mainly competes with media giant ABS-CBN Corp. for television ratings, expects to post higher profits in 2018 as advertising sales pick up while operational costs are curbed.
GMA’s profit dropped by 30 percent in 2017 to P2.54 billion, mainly on the absence of political ad spending that propped up earnings in 2016, the year of the presidential elections.
In previous years, GMA’s owners have held talks with PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom for a possible investment but a final deal never materialized.
Businessman Ramon Ang, president of San Miguel Corp., came close to buying a 30 percent stake in 2015 but that deal also fell through.
During the shareholders’ meeting, GMA’s management highlighted the company’s new projects, including a P700 million digital television project, which Gozon acknowledged had uncertain financial prospects.
“We don’t have a monetization model yet for the domestic [digital television business],” Gozon told reporters.
Gozon said GMA successfully implemented the first phase of its digital TV transmission project in December last year.
Since then, the company has been airing digital TV transmissions across Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga and parts of Bataan, Nueva Ecija and Tarlac.
Gozon also cited that the company’s DTV signals will reach Mindanao by end-June this year.
“After we are through with our digitization project, we will be covering 83 percent of the Philippines with our digital signal,” Gozon said.
Next month, GMA will seal an agreement with a Chinese supplier for the manufacture of devices that will convert the company’s analog TV transmissions to digital, he said.
The device, which Gozon said is smaller than a basic feature phone, will cost less than ABS-CBN’s TVPlus boxes, which retail for around P1,500 each.
Gozon said GMA plans to sell one million such devices within a year. ABS-CBN, which launched its digital TV service in 2015, has sold over 4.3 million TVPlus boxes.
The shift to digital TV follows the 2013 decision by the Philippines to choose the Japanese standard over its European counterpart. Japan edged out its rival in terms of cost and a built-in warning system to inform people about natural calamities.
The National Telecommunications Commission announced last year that the “switch off” of anlaog TV was targeted in 2023. It expected that roughly 95 percent of all households would have access to digital TV by then. /vvp
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