Pacquiao watch: Almost no free live feed in Gensan

Edwin G. Espejo
The previous administration under former mayor Darlene Antonino Custodio reportedly fails to pay P350,000 for the live coverage

TRAINING. Manny Pacquiao prepares for his fight with Brandon Rios on November 24. Photo by Edwin Espejo/Rappler

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – The city government of General Santos was almost denied a live feed to Manny Pacquiao’s November 24 bout with Brandon Rios.

Cable company Solar Sports, which owns the exclusive television broadcast rights to boxing fights of Pacquiao, told the city government the previous administration had failed to pay P350,000 for the coverage of the Pacquiao-Marquez fight in December 2012. The bout was shown live at the city-owned Lagao Gymnasium.

City Administrator Arnel Zapatos said they had no knowledge about the failure of the previous administration to pay its obligation to Solar Sports. The company has been carrying Pacquiao fights since 2006.

He said they had asked Solar Sports for a copy of the contract that the city government reportedly signed with the cable company. They expect to have a copy by next week.

“We have not seen any document of that contract (Pacquiao-Marquez live feed),” Zapatos said.

He added that Solar Sports earlier refused to provide a live feed of the Pacquiao-Rios fight until the outstanding account was settled and paid.

Political rivals

Former city mayor Darlene Antonino Custodio did not reply to an inquiry made through her mobile phone unit.

Custodio lost in the May 2013 election to Mayor Ronnel Rivera, a political ally of Pacquiao.

Custodio and Pacquiao are political rivals, with the now-Sarangani congressman losing to the former in 2007 for the congressional race in the first district of South Cotabato.

But the office of Representative Manny Pacquiao reportedly interceded and asked Solar to grant the city government live coverage and allow residents free viewing of the comeback fight of the Filipino boxing icon.

As a result, the city government and Solar agreed on a live airing of the Pacquiao-Rios fight.

But instead of holding the live feed at the Lagao Gym, the city government will be using the covered court at the Oval Plaza where a huge LED television screen will be installed.

Zapatos said the gym had been booked for a two-day affair of the Jehovah’s Witness before the Pacquiao fight was announced.

The city administrator also said huge TV screens will likewise be set up in some heavily populated barangays to allow more residents to watch the Pacquiao-Rios fight. –

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