Present at the signing are (from left) PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications Inc. President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio, Mediaquest Holdings Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, Mediaquest Holdings President & CEO Jane J. Basas, Sky Cable Corp President & CEO Antonio S. Ventosa, ABS-CBN Chairman Mark L. Lopez and ABS-CBN President & CEO Carlo L. Katigbak.

By Regina Lay, One News Business News Editor

It’s a match made for TV: MediaQuest, the parent company of TV5 Network, has signed a landmark deal with ABS-CBN, capping three years of disruption in the broadcast media industry.

The closed-door ceremony was led by MediaQuest Holdings Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan and ABS-CBN Chairman Mark L. Lopez at the Cignal Launchpad headquarters in Mandaluyong.

ABS-CBN will acquire 6,459,353 primary shares, or roughly 34.99%, in TV5 for P2.16 billion. Down the line, there is also an option, subject to regulatory approvals, for ABS to increase its stake to up to 49.92%.

“We welcome the investment and entry of ABS-CBN in TV5. ABS-CBN has always been the leading developer and provider of Filipino entertainment content in the Philippines and overseas as well. We now can achieve our cherished goal in greater measure of providing quality content across Entertainment, Sports and News in the service of the Filipino people,” Mr. Pangilinan said in a statement.

The two had been in discussions for over a year, and Mr. Pangilinan said both sides are walking away “happy”.

“Both parties feel good about it, that we did not take everything on the table,” he said on the sidelines of the event.

Both sides are also still working out the grid and have not finalized the show lineup. “There is discussion and agreement that News should also be combined in some shape or form,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

“For ABS-CBN, it presents an exciting opportunity to achieve synergies in content production, work with the best talent on-cam and off-cam, as well as to expand our ability to reach and engage with every Filipino throughout the country,” Mr. Lopez said.

“This partnership is consistent with the strategic intention of ABS-CBN to evolve and primarily be a storytelling company,” he added. The network giant lost its franchise two years ago and recently told shareholders it will focus on content distribution instead.

The deal also includes Cignal Cable acquiring a minority 38.88% stake in SkyCable for P2.862 billion. The company says this will enhance its public service offerings, particularly educational programs for children in remote areas.

But even before the announcement, the idea had already triggered a reaction from the Philippine Competition Commission. The MVP group had actually expressed interest in SkyCable as early as 2020, but dropped the bid then due to possible antitrust issues.

But this time Mr. Pangilinan was unfazed, saying “both organizations have ensured that the transaction meets all of the legal requirements [and] securities laws”.

Asked if this might finally be TV5’s path to profitability, Mr. Pangilinan said: “That’s part of the motivation. You’re not marrying somebody to lose money, right?”

Both transactions are expected to close in August 2022.

Also at the signing were PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications Inc. President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio, Mediaquest President Jane J. Basas, Sky Cable President Antonio S. Ventosa, ABS-CBN President & CEO Carlo L. Katigbak and ABS-CBN Head of Corporate Partnerships Roberto Barreiro.

“We look forward to this strengthened partnership, as we see the opportunity to help TV5 grow and be an important part of every home in the Philippines,” Mr.Lopez said. “I am happy and honored to be able to recognize and say: Ang ating mga Kapatid ay ang ating mga Kapamilya.”

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.