ABS-CBN, TV5 pause deal as solons question tie-up

ABS-CBN Corp. and TV5 Network Inc. have agreed to put on hold the completion of their partnership deal.

“To address the issues which have been raised by certain legislators and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on the proposed investment by ABS-CBN for a minority interest in TV5, ABS-CBN and TV5 have agreed to a pause in their closing preparations.

This pause will give the space for both media organizations to respond to the issues, and accommodate any relevant changes to the terms,” ABS-CBN said on Wednesday.

ABS-CBN is acquiring 6.46 million primary common shares, equivalent to 34.99 percent of capital and voting stock, in TV5, valued at P2.16 billion.

Both said that the deal will have a favorable impact on Philippine media, and on free-to-air television, which remains the most affordable and extensive source of entertainment and public service to Filipinos.

Earlier, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said ABS-CBN would have to “clear violations and obligations” before proceeding with its investment in TV5.  Also, some lawmakers opposed the deal. They raised possible violations on foreign ownership of TV5 and ABS-CBN’s block time agreement.

Terry Ridon, Infrawatch PH convenor, said the transaction does not require the prior approval of Congress as this does not involve the sale of controlling shares of TV5 to another entity.

“It is our view that this transaction is not a competition concern, as both entities are not the dominant players in the broadcast sector.”

ABS-CBN went off the air in May 2020 following a cease-and-desist order by the NTC due to the expiration of its legislative franchise. Thereafter, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises rejected its application for a new 25-year franchise.

Ridon added that the deal does not violate any NTC regulation. “The new government should take notice that this transaction is entirely distinct from the franchise proceedings in the previous government, and if it is truly committed to its call for unity among our people, it should step aside and let this transaction proceed and allow all voices to be broadcast, no matter how inconvenient or discordant these voices may be.”