BROADCAST firm ABS-CBN Corp. on Thursday said the company is not for sale amid talks that Ramon S. Ang, president of San Miguel Corp. (SMC), is interested in venturing into the Philippine broadcasting industry.
Eugenio L. Lopez III, chairman and chief executive officer of ABS-CBN, said there are no discussions nor were there any feelers sent by Ang’s group with regards to a possible sale of the TV station.
“Hindi po. ABS-CBN is not for sale,” Lopez said in reply to a question raised by a stockholder during the annual stockholders’ meeting.
Moreover, Lopez said ABS-CBN is not threatened by the impending tandem of Associated Broadcasting Co. (ABC), operator of TV5, and GMA Network Inc .
“Combining channels, programs are not going to lead to give you an inordinate structural advantage. We are competing not only against channels but with internet and hundreds of channels. It makes no difference to me if there’s one owner or hundred owners, we’re still competing against all of them. That will not change regardless of what the equity structure is of those companies,” Lopez said.
Manuel V. Pangilinan earlier said an investment deal with GMA7 may be finalized within the year. If and when completed, ABS-CBN expects to face stiff competition from TV5 and GMA7.
But Lopez said any deal between GMA7 and TV5 won’t change “what we have to do.”
“We’re very focused on our own strategy. The number of channels that we have to compete against remains the same. As far as we’re concerned, we just have to execute and we’ll be okay,” he said.
ABS-CBN chief financial officer Ronaldo Valdueza, meanwhile, said the broadcast firm is on track to meet its full-year net income target albeit posting a flat first-half performance. “It’s close to flat. But we are sticking to our minimum target of P1.3 billion. We are on track,” he said.
Lopez, meanwhile, said ABS-CBN’s second-half performance is on the path towards improving albeit an increase in operating costs. “There has been significant improvement, but because of the competitive climate, operating costs has been going up. It’s no secret we’ve had to increase our talent fees, which has had a significant impact on our overall profitability. The reality is if we did not have to increase our costs, we would show a significant increase this year. We feel our trajectory is correct and the second half would be significantly better,” he said.
ABS-CBN president and chief operating officer Charo Santos-Concio said the company is finalizing the business plan to build a soundstage and several backlot facilities.
“We took the next steps in our vision to becoming the Filipino content provider of choice. We are in the process of finalizing the business plan for the building of a soundstage and backlot facilities for our future productions and talents. These are facilities that would enable us to have better production quality while saving on time and cost of location shootings,” she said.
ABS-CBN, said Valdueza, is planning to build at least 10 sound stages in the next five years that could roughly cost between P150 million and P200 million each.
“We have acquired a lot somewhere in Bulacan, it’s about 15 hectares. We have some consultants working with us. Hopefully, we will be able finalize the plans soon. We are hopeful we can build at least one soundstage within the year,” Valdueza said.
Lopez said about 65 percent to 75 percent of ABS-CBN’s shooting is done on location. With the sound stages, location shooting may be lowered to about 30 percent.