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Biz Buzz: Battle for ‘Kapuso’

/ 01:41 AM June 25, 2012

After the race to the skies and the continuing race on toll roads, the next tug-of-war between frenemies Manuel V. Pangilinan and Ramon S. Ang is the battle for the “heart” (and mind) of the people. After all, well-placed industry sources said that when RSA talked about San Miguel Corp. “seriously considering” to enter the broadcasting business, he really meant GMA Network, not ABS-CBN, not Solar TV as others theorize.

The fact is SMC has started to look at GMA 7 in 1999 when the latter’s owners were seeking fresh capital, but SMC had no leeway in its charter to engage in other businesses outside its core food and beverage interests. A few years ago when SMC started to diversify, RSA also talked to GMA7’s controlling triumvirate to acquire an initial 30-percent interest, which could be raised to 60 percent in three years’ time, but talks bogged down on pricing issues, our reliable sources said. But about a year and a half ago, our sources said that such talks were revived but that must be about the same time that GMA7’s owners also revived talks with MVP’s group.

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Since MVP-led First Pacific group controls the country’s dominant telecom firm PLDT, going into media is part of the “convergence” strategy, knowing that telcos must deepen value-added and content services to stay relevant in this day and age of social networking. Apart from TV5, MVP’s group has minority interests in broadsheets Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star and BusinessWorld.

So who will get GMA7? As always, whoever wants it more will get it.—Doris C. Dumlao

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MVP on Anti-Trust

During the Earth’s Resources Conference in Hong Kong last week, MVP said there were still a lot of opportunities for First Pacific to invest in the Philippines but that he was cognizant of the consequences of becoming too big in a country with vibrant politicians. Moving forward, MVP has started to look at opportunities outside the Philippines (where 70 percent of First Pacific assets are invested in) and to become “more focused” on local investments.

“We must clearly demonstrate that that investment is beneficial to the country,” MVP said.

The businessman noted pending bills in Congress pushing for an anti-trust law, which he said carried the “wrong label.” “They really mean concentration limits. I think that’s where the fear is,” he said.

In his talks with some congressmen, MVP said what was needed was for the Philippines to come up with a national competition policy that was “relevant” to the population. “We can’t copy or imitate,” MVP said, noting the country’s propensity—being usually US-centric—to copy American policies to the letter and “transplant” them to the local regulatory framework. “We’re too lazy to think what’s appropriate for us,” he said.—Doris C. Dumlao

Speaking of which…

The competition between ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. and upstart TV5 seems to have spilled over onto the academic field, with the former recently completing a move certain to make wags chuckle.

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Sources told Biz Buzz that the country’s biggest television network (that’s ABS-CBN, for now) has donated P55 million worth of broadcast equipment and studio facilities to the Ateneo de Manila University’s communication arts department as part of the former’s corporate social responsibility program. Of course, the move also makes sense for ABS-CBN since they will be able to tap fresh talent from the university and even identify them long before they enter the job market.

The facilities—good enough to be used for actual broadcasts, we hear—are complemented by a program in which ABS-CBN brass regularly lecture in Ateneo’s communication arts classes. As if to underscore the growing rivalry between ABS-CBN and TV5, the facilities, dubbed the “ELJ Multimedia Center,” are located in a building facing the current “MVP Leadership Center” in Ateneo’s Loyola Heights campus.—Daxim L. Lucas

Backtracking on pro-consumer move

So what happened with the government’s short-lived bid to implement pro-consumer rules in the airline business by preventing carriers from engaging in overbooking and “no refund” policies? Airline regulators are just as confused as everyone else at the seeming change of heart at the Department of Transportation and Communications.

According to our sources, the move to prohibit overbooking and the no-refund policy was prompted by no less than the DoTC, with the latter’s proposed “Air Passenger Bill of Rights” announced last month. Well, too bad for the actual regulators on the ground who sought to implement the directive faithfully. It turns out that, when they submitted the new policy for approval to the DoTC, the undersecretary in charge of the sector refused to sign it, leaving officials at the implementing agency high and dry (and airline passengers scratching their heads at the sudden change of heart).

Of course, the move to ban overbooking and the no-refund policy was opposed from day one by budget carriers like Cebu Pacific, which derives a portion of its revenues from passengers who either cannot make it to their flights or time or miss them entirely.

In an unrelated development at the height of the debate over the no-overbooking, no-refund policy, Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei was seen by sources chatting with Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas during President Aquino’s recent working visit to the United States, and again during a recent event in Clark.—Daxim L. Lucas

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TAGS: ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., Air Transport, anti-trust law, Ateneo de Manila University, GMA 7, Government, media, MVP, no-refund policy, San Miguel Corp., Television, TV5
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