Aborted TV5/ABS deal: Viewing public is loser

What caused the TV5/ABS-CBN partnership deal to be aborted?

Observers speculated that TV5’s Manny V. Pangilinan decided to terminate the transaction — in which ABS-CBN was to invest P2.16 billion, equivalent to a 34.9 percent stake — for fear of repercussions against other MVP-led companies such as PLDT and Meralco.

To recall, ABS-CBN (which has been run by the Lopezes since 1953) and TV5 (owned by PLDT’s MediaQuest Holdings), announced on 24 August they will “halt” the partnership to address “issues which have been raised by certain legislators and the National Telecommunications Commission.”

Photographs courtesy of abs-cbn and tv5
jane de Leon as the new ‘Darna,’ which airs on TV5, A2Z, and iWantTFC.

The partnership had earlier been seen as a “landmark” deal for the variety of content it would bring to free TV.

It had likewise brought hope to the broadcast industry via increased advertising revenue and more jobs.

It could have challenged the current monopoly of a rival network which has benefited from the congressional rejection of ABS-CBN’s broadcast franchise renewal in 2020.

“The SEC, the BIR and other government agencies have cleared ABS-CBN of any wrongdoing and yet the Duterte administration moved to deny its franchise and shut down its operations, causing the unemployment of thousands of employees,” said ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro.

Maja Salvador is Lablab, a hotel manager, on the TV5 show ‘Oh My Korona.’

“We will still try to push for a new franchise for ABS-CBN to create more jobs, fight fake news, and to extend more help to the Filipino people.”

Consumer Union of the Philippines president said: “While it appears to be a private matter for the two media companies, what is at stake here is the information that may be consumed by the general public. Not only is this a matter of news and entertainment, but choices of people as we continue to inform them of events and market trends.”

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman commented: “Another victim of the termination is the viewing public, for being deprived of the emergence of fair and healthy competition in the television and broadcast industry which could have been ushered in by the agreement.”

The deal, which legal experts had deemed “totally legal” and aboveboard, however, could’ve been a victim of political pressure.

How far can this meddling go?

While Korea’s entertainment industry has conquered the world with full support from its government, its Philippine counterpart pales in comparison.

Despite this setback, we hope there’s still a chance for healthy competition in the local TV industry. ABS-CBN remains undeterred and is also likely to expand its content creation efforts and engage in more partnerships with streaming platforms and media companies other than TV5.

More content, more jobs, and more public service — these are just some of the benefits lost with the aborted deal.

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