By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

GMA NETWORK, Inc. said it will be launching a digital terrestrial television (DTT) device this year, which will allow users to stream its free-to-air shows through mobile phones.

During the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting Wednesday, GMA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Felipe L. Gozon said the company is investing “over a billion pesos” to complete the second phase of its digitization project, part of which will be the launch of its DTT device “MyGMA Go.”

“Our digital device, which will have features that our competitors do not have, will be finally launched some time in the second half of this year,” he said.

Mr. Gozon told reporters the product will be like a dongle that could be attached to Android phones to enable the device to receive signals to watch GMA shows and other free-to-air channels.

The devices will be sold through GMA’s digital transformation partner PLDT, Inc. and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc., with an initial target of selling one million out of the total of four million units nationwide.

“[W]ith the other features, I’m hoping madaling ibenta dahil mas mura eh. Pero sa smartphone lang muna ’yun [I’m hoping it will be easier to sell because it is cheaper. But it’s for smartphones for now],” he said, noting the digital device will cost around P500 each.

The company started transmitting digital TV signal using its permanent frequency UHF Channel 15 yesterday.

Mr. Gozon noted they decided not to launch a similar product to rival ABS-CBN Corp.’s TVplus box, as they wanted something mobile and allows interaction.

For 2019, the GMA chairman said the company is targeting to grow its revenues by 12%.

“I am confident that this year will bring better financial results because of election-related revenues as well as those from our recurring advertising sales. We target to increase our 2019 revenues by 12%,” Mr. Gozon said.

In a regulatory filing, GMA said its attributable net income surged 70.7% to P716.08 million for the January to March period, driven by an increase in revenues from advertising placements.

Consolidated revenues grew 14% to P3.8 billion from P3.34 billion in the same period last year, coming mostly from political advertisements that contributed more than P300 million from January to March.

Excluding the impact of election-related advertisements, GMA said its consolidated sales from recurring revenues still grew 4% during the period.

While advertising revenues increased 16% to P3.5 billion, revenues from subscriptions and others declined 8% to P302.2 million in the three-month period.

Expenses were flat in the first quarter at P2.81 billion from P2.77 billion the previous year.

“Cost-wise, the Company continued to display a conscious effort to manage spending…. Production and other direct costs which made up more than half of total (operating expenses) even contracted by P79 million or 5%, thus cushioning the escalation in general and administrative expenses which grew by P117 million or 10%,” GMA said in a regulatory filing.