Cignal, TV5 get boost after ABS-CBN taken off the air–MVP
PLDT Inc.’s media group saw a boost in 2020 after the Duterte administration and its allies in Congress crippled ABS-CBN’s flagship television business.
PLDT chair and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said their satellite TV company Cignal TV saw a “tsunami” of new subscribers following the closure of ABS-CBN subsidiary SkyCable Corp.’s service called SkyDirect last June 30.“Cignal had a very good year because, unfortunately, SkyDirect was closed and there was significant migration of SkyDirect subscribers that went over to the Cignal side,” Pangilinan said during a media briefing last week. He said Cignal added 1.3-1.4 million new subscribers “in the latter part of 2020.” This will boost revenues and profits starting this year, he said.
At the same time, Pangilinan said TV5 benefited from some of ABS-CBN’s popular programs after the company signed a blocktime deal with the Lopez-led network.
“The content of ABS that has so far been shown in TV5 has helped [ratings] a bit,” Pangilinan said.
ABS-CBN turned to leasing airtime from other companies after its free-to-air broadcasts were shut down on May 5 last year. The National Telecommunications Commission, which issued the cease and desist orders, cited the expiration of ABS-CBN and SkyCable’s franchises after repeated efforts at renewal languished in the House of Representatives.
ABS-CBN was once the country’s largest TV broadcast company, reaching tens of millions of viewers and listeners per day. SkyDirect was a home satellite TV service with about 1.5 million subscribers.
While ABS-CBN continues broadcasts mainly through its online channels and cable TV business, free-to-air advertisements provided most of its earnings. The company was forced to lay off nearly 5,000 employees, close down business operations and much of its regional media operations after Duterte’s allies in Congress finally voted to kill its bid for a new franchise last July 10.President Duterte had threatened to block the renewal himself, saying the media giant failed to air some of his political advertisements during the 2016 elections. INQ
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