ABS-CBN, TV5 investment deal is dead, says Pangilinan
The joint venture deal between TV5 Network Inc. and ABS-CBN Corp.—aborted following political pressures—will no longer be revisited, with both camps having decided to just focus on their existing block time agreement, according to tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan.
On the sidelines of the Philippine Digital Convention 2022 media launch on Wednesday in Makati City, the billionaire told reporters the media groups’ partnership, including TV5-led Cignal Cable Corp.’s investment in the Lopezes’ Sky Cable Corp., was not on the table any longer.
“No, I think we have mutually terminated discussions with respect to the investment,” Pangilinan said when asked if they were looking at pursuing the deals again.
To recall, ABS-CBN and TV5 announced the termination of their deal in September or about a month after they signed the much-ballyhooed landmark transaction. It was supposed to mark the Lopez-led media company’s return to free TV space after its appeal for a franchise renewal was rejected two years ago. “But before that particular transaction … we have been in discussion with ABS about the content being shown on TV5. That discussion continues to this day,” Pangilinan said.
ABS-CBN first announced in January its block time leasing deal with TV5, which allows the former’s popular shows to be aired via the Pangilinan-led platform.
Under the botched investment deal, ABS-CBN was supposed to acquire 6.46 million new common shares in TV5 for P2.16 billion. This was about 35 percent of TV5’s total outstanding capital stock.
The investment deal would have raised the partnership to new heights, with ABS-CBN describing the transaction as “transformational for both companies” as it would “significantly enhance TV5’s capability to deliver content and coverage … in the areas of entertainment, news, sports and public services.”
In other words, it would be able to show its content again to a broader audience. ABS-CBN has gone digital since 2020.
Social Amelioration and Genuine Intervention on Poverty Representative Rodante Marcoleta, one of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies who strongly opposed the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, sought to probe the business deal, asserting that TV5 violated its own broadcasting rights.
The National Telecommunications Commission also expressed the need to look at the alleged violations of the Lopez firm that were flagged during its franchise renewal hearing in 2020, including tax payments and foreign ownership.
“The scuttling of the joint venture will continue to hang as a dark cloud for the future of Philippine business under the current government. It is naked political interference in a perfectly legitimate transaction,” Infrawatch PH convener Terry Ridon told the Inquirer.
“This is not the governance climate which will compel investors to place bets on the country as an emerging economic destination,” he added.
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