ABS-CBN in landmark agreement with TV5

ABS-CBN AND TV5 announced a landmark investment agreement on Thursday, August 11, promising further collaboration in entertainment and news programming. 

ABS-CBN Corporation will gain a sizable stake in its former rival TV5 Network Inc. for PHP 2.16 billion. The media group is set to acquire 6,459,393 primary common shares in TV5, amounting to 34.99 percent of total voting and outstanding capital stock. TV5’s parent company MediaQuest will have its holdings reduced to 64.79 percent while remaining controlling stakeholder. 

MediaQuest Holdings Inc. is owned by Manuel V. Pangilinan, who also chairs telecommunications giant PLDT, Inc. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.

ABS-CBN supported its acquisition by selling part of its shares in SkyCable Corp. worth PHP 2.465 billion to MediaQuest’s Cignal Cable Corp. ABS-CBN’s report noted that the acquisition of shares will be subject to “regulatory approvals.”

Explaining the deal, Pangilinan said the two networks can now “provide quality content across entertainment, sports, and news” in “greater measure.” TV5 had been airing entertainment shows produced by ABS-CBN since March 2021, including the top-rating series “Ang Probinsyano.”

ABS-CBN chair Mark L. Lopez described the investment as an opportunity to build up TV5’s reach on free television, adding that the partnership is a “fantastic platform” to maximize the networks’ content delivery. 

The Lopez-owned network lost its free television service in July 2020 when the Duterte administration-allied Congress denied its franchise renewal request, a move widely condemned as a state attack on press freedom. ABS-CBN has since been distributing content on free analog and digital terrestrial TV through TV5 and Zoe Broadcasting Network’s A2Z channel. The company has also entered agreements with streaming platforms such as Netflix and Viu. 

The new investment agreement is a “spectacular coup” for ABS-CBN, public investment analyst Terry Ridon told CNN Philippines. “They have been pushed to their knees in 2020, but they are back again to provide news content through TV5.”

NTC to monitor developments

Commenting on the newly-signed deal, the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC)  Gamaliel Cordoba called on ABS-CBN to clear its “violations” before proceeding with the partnership. Speaking to state media on August 11, Cordoba cited an NTC memorandum that prohibits organizations from entering into deals “with those who have outstanding obligations to the national government.” 

Cordoba maintained NTC was not targeting ABS-CBN, as the memorandum applies to all franchise holders. Both the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Securities and Exchange Commission have cleared the company of liabilities and other violations.