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GMA teaming up with PLDT for shift to digital

/ 08:40 AM January 10, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — GMA Network Inc. is teaming up with telco giant PLDT Inc. for a broad range of technology initiatives, including the broadcaster’s transition to digital television.

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The alliance was announced via a joint statement Wednesday. Specifically, GMA subsidiary GMA New Media Inc. and PLDT-Smart Communications signed what was described as a “technology, content, and distribution agreement.”

The companies did not provide specifics but signaled that PLDT would play a key role in delivering GMA’s media content across its nationwide telecommunications network.

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“This partnership is a clear statement that we are welcoming disruption and embracing digital with open arms,” GMA Network chair and CEO Felipe L. Gozon said in the statement.

“By riding the wave of disruption with PLDT and Smart as partners, we will not only upgrade the quality of content we are producing but we are also setting the stage for a new age of digital television,” he added.

The tie-up helps answer investors’ questions over the steps GMA is taking to advance its business in the digital age. Rival ABS-CBN had an early lead in digital TV, having launched its ABS-CBN TVplus in 2015 and then its iWant streaming service late last year.

But the move also raises queries over the media content strategy of the PLDT Group, which controls TV5, the Philippines’s third-largest TV network.

“As we transform our business from being a legacy telco into the premier and most trusted digital enabler in the country, this partnership will enable us to power GMA’s digital pivot and help deliver to our millions of fixed and wireless subscribers GMA 7’s unique and compelling content, as well as exciting new digital experiences to more Filipino families,” PLDT chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said in the same statement.

PLDT and GMA have a long history of unsuccessful buy-in deals initiated by the former. Eventually, GMA’s management signaled that it was open to content partnership agreements with the telco providers.

GMA’s digital TV rollout only started to ramp up last year. Gozon, at the time, noted that they were concerned about still-uncertain financial prospects in the business.

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Broadcasters are also preparing for the switch off of analog TV, which is targeted by 2023, the National Telecommunications Commission earlier announced. It expected roughly 95 percent of all households to have access to digital TV by then. /cbb

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TAGS: digital television, GMA Network Inc., GMA New Media Inc., News, PLDT, PLDT-Smart Communications, technology
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