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GMA dilly-dallies on digital TV launch

GMA Network Inc., one of the country’s biggest television broadcast companies, said it was ready to launch its digital television service as early as this year, but was holding back from pulling the trigger until it could find a business model that works.

Those financial considerations are coming up as GMA was poised to earn an “unprecedented” profit in 2016, its chair and CEO Felipe Gozon said on Tuesday. A big earnings boost this year would come from the national elections that saw Rodrigo Duterte, the tough talking mayor of Davao City, win the presidency by a landslide.

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Gozon said all technical back-end requirements related to its digital terrestrial television service were already in place. “The problem here was how to monetize, and we’re conservative when it came to that,” Gozon told reporters on the sidelines of the company’s annual stockholders meeting on Tuesday.

The rules for the shift from analog TV to DTV, which offered clearer audio and visual signals, have been out since 2014. GMA’s chief rival, ABS-CBN Corp., launched its own service via ABS-CBN TV Plus boxes last February 2015 and has since sold about 1.2 million units.

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Gozon said steps were being taken to reduce GMA’s exposure. He said the “all in” capital spending for DTV was pegged between P1 billion to P1.5 billion.

He added GMA’s device, which would allow analog TV sets to receive digital TV signals, would cost less than ABS-CBN’s TV Plus boxes.

Gozon said GMA Network was expected to hit or exceed its P3 billion profit guidance in 2016, a figure 50 percent better than earnings seen in 2015. He said election-related ad revenues likely went beyond the firm’s target of P1.5 billion.

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TAGS: Business, digital television, economy, GMA Network Inc., News
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