MVP not threatened by PTV revival
Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - December 26, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The head of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), which owns the country’s third largest television network, is cool to the proposed bill filed at the Senate seeking to revive the state-owned People’s Television Network Inc. (PTV).

PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the government-run network needs to earn money to sustain its operations through the proposed law that would allow it to compete with private television companies for advertising and commercial interests.

“I think they have to make money,” Pangilinan stressed.

Senate Bill 3316 serves as substitute to Senate Bill 2985 and 3070 amending Republic Act 7306 or the charter of PTV.

The bill proposes to revitalize the government-owned PTV by infusing the struggling government station with additional capitalization and allowing it to engage in more diverse programming.

As proposed, PTV would receive P5 billion in capital infusion from the National Government consisting of P2 billion from the proceeds of the sale of Radio Philippines Network (RPN 9) and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp. (IBC 13) and P2 billion from the incremental increases of the spectrum user’s fee (SUF) of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

The remaining P1 billion would come from the General Appropriations Act.

The bill proposes that public funds would be earmarked from the national budget to enable PTV to buy equipment, build infrastructure, produce programs, purchase content, hire personnel and recruit creative staff for its operations.

To sustain its operations, PTV would also be permitted to generate revenue by selling airtime and commercial ads.

Pangilinan’s view is in contrast with the hardline stance taken by broadcast giant GMA Network Inc.

GMA president and chief executive officer Felipe L. Gozon earlier strongly opposed the bill allowing PTV to compete with private television companies for advertising and commercial interests.

Gozon said the proposed bill would be unfair to private-run broadcasting firms as taxpayers’ money including the taxes paid by corporations would be used to revive the operations of the cash-strapped TV station.

“The plan to commercialize is very, very unfair as PTV is a government owned station,” he lamented.

“It would be as if GMA is financially supporting its competitor through taxes, which the company diligently pays for. If PTV wishes to sell airtime, the government-owned station must give up the subsidy it receives in order to level the playing field,” Gozon said.

In a letter to the Senate committee on public information and mass media chaired by Sen. Gregorio Honasan, GMA vice president for legal affairs Ma. Luz Delfin said the provisions of the bill that would commercialize PTV are not in harmony with its noble intention.

Delfin said the move would promote the existence of unfair market conditions to the disadvantage of commercial broadcasters and would affect the programming options of PTV to the detriment of public service.

PLDT is mulling over additional investments in its media assets after the telecom company failed to bag GMA.

Earlier, the PLDT board approved a P6 billion investment in third-ranked TV network TV5 and Cignal, the group’s satellite cable TV service. The investment would be in the form of a subscription in Philippine depositary receipts that PLDT unit MediaQuest would issue.

Of the total amount approved, P4.8 billion would go to TV5 to finance a state-of-the-art media center in Mandaluyong and the remaining P1.2 billion to expand the operation of Cignal.

A wholly owned entity of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund, MediaQuest holds the PLDT group’s media assets.

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