MANILA, Philippines – Embattled media giant ABS-CBN responded to news reports of a potential merger with Manny Pangilinan’s TV5, saying that it continues to “explore” opportunities as they come.
Pangilinan was quoted as saying that “nothing definitive or final has been reached at this time.”
In a stock exchange filing on Monday, June 6, ABS-CBN neither confirmed nor denied the content of the reports, but noted its openness to tie-ups.
“Our goal as storytellers and content creators is to bring Filipino stories to audiences here and all over the world. This is the reason we are exploring content distribution opportunities that allow us to reach wider audiences and pursue our mission of service,” it said.
“Over the recent past, we have announced various local and international partnerships, including our content agreement with TV5. We continue to explore various partnership opportunities as they become available to us.”
ABS-CBN entertainment shows currently air on TV5 and A2Z, after the Duterte-allied Congress denied it a franchise. Other shows can be viewed through the network’s online platforms and apps.
Sources said ABS-CBN may need a partner to help it pay for its obligations.
As of 2021, interest-bearing loans under its content production and distribution amounted to P15.6 billion, while loans under cable and broadband stood at P4.89 billion. Long-term debt totaled P18.2 billion.
All of the network’s debts are domestic. Banks that have loan exposure are BDO Unibank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Philippine National Bank, Union Bank of the Philippines, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, and Security Bank.
Part of ABS-CBN’s existing loan covenant with its creditors requires it to have a broadcasting franchise.
With no franchise, the network entered into standstill agreements and waivers with lenders.
ABS-CBN trimmed its losses in the first quarter of 2022. It incurred a net loss of P1.4 billion in the first quarter, 28% lower than the P1.9 billion recorded a year ago.
Revenues from advertising and consumer sales grew 18.6% to P4.65 billion from P3.9 billion.
Meanwhile, Pangilinan’s TV5 has yet to turn profitable since the tycoon bought the network in 2010.
Pangilinan said TV5 is slowly erasing losses and may be in the black by 2024. ABS-CBN had started airing some of its shows on TV5 in 2021.
“TV5 is doing well,” Pangilinan told the Philippine Star last year, without disclosing numbers.
Pangilinan also had his eyes on GMA, but talks between the Kapuso network and PLDT in 2001, 2004, 2012, and 2014 fell through. – Rappler.com