By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

GMA Network, Inc. announced on Thursday that it had set aside slightly less than P2 billion for next year to cover various projects, including the expansion of its digital transmission network and regional television network.

The amount will also cover the company’s investment in content.

“For next year, the capex (capital expenditures) earmarked is a little less than P2 billion, which will be for the expansion of our digital transmission network, upgrading of our post-production capabilities and of our content playout facilities, and expansion of our regional TV network, etc.,” GMA Network Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Felipe L. Gozon said at the company’s special stockholders’ meeting.

In January, the media company announced that it had allocated more than P20 billion for capex and content cost this year until 2023.

The company aims to construct a new building in Quezon City.

Mr. Gozon said GMA Network expects to miss its consolidated gross revenue target this year. “But we will exceed our net income.”

He said in May that the company was anticipating a 15% increase in its earnings this year, on the assumption that vaccine rollouts across the country would further ease restrictions.

As for his growth outlook for 2022, Mr. Gozon said: “As you know, the situation about the pandemic is improving. That’s why we expect the momentum in the later part of the fourth quarter of the year to continue up to next year.”

“And next year being a presidential election year, we have reason to be optimistic. However, it still depends on how far and fast our recovery will be and whether the pandemic will surge or not,” he added.

Mr. Gozon also recalled that in the 2019 elections, political ad sales accounted for only 5% of the company’s total consolidated sales.

“With the pandemic and the Comelec-imposed… 40-50% discount…, we don’t think that this year of political ads will significantly change from prior elections. In other words, our main source of revenues will still come from recurring advertisers,” he said.

GMA Network stockholders also approved on Thursday the company’s subscription to the increase in the authorized capital stock of its wholly-owned subsidiary GMA Ventures, Inc. (GVI) from P50 million to P1 billion, which subscription will initially be in the amount of P250 million.

They also approved the payment of P100 million for the said subscription, including the grant of authority to GMA Network’s executive committee to make additional payment and, if necessary, to increase the subscription of the company to the authorized capital stock of GVI.

“Our diversification efforts to invest in businesses that are not related to our core business of broadcasting will be carried out by GVI,” Mr. Gozon said.

He also gave updates on GMA Now, the media company’s mobile digital terrestrial television (DTT) receiver, which was launched in February.

“As of Dec. 5, 2021, we have sold something like 31,000 units of GMA Now.”

The lockdowns, he said, had an impact on sales. “But we are still optimistic that sales will gain traction as soon as people [are able to] leave their homes.”

He also said the company sold 740,000 units of its DTT receiver GMA Affordabox this year.  “Last year, we sold a little less than one million units. Again, we see that sales of our Affordabox will increase next year.”

GMA Network shares closed 0.15% lower at P13.48 apiece on Thursday.