MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - It's official. Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and TV5, is in talks to buy GMA Network.
Pangilinan said he's been negotiating for the purchase of GMA Network as early as 2002, and talks were recently revived.
He, however, clarified that the talks are just preliminary.
"We've talked to them...you know, since 2002, and then maybe 5 years ago. [Q. Recently?] Very, very preliminary," he said.
If the deal pushes through, GMA-7 will be the latest addition to Pangilinan's media empire, which already counts TV5 , and a minority stake in some broadsheets.
GMA-7 did not answer requests for comment, but it denied last December that there was an offer from Pangilinan.
Pangilinan assured TV 5 that it will not be neglected and the station's employees won't lose their jobs.
"One thing we do hold sacred to us is that the folks who joined us, particulary the initial batch of people who have joined us, the talents, the staff, the news people, especially at the start, we are deeply grateful for taking a risk with us and we will not abandon them," he said.
Pangilinan said he may also buy at least a 5% stake in online news site Rappler.com, whose chief executive officer is veteran journalist Maria Ressa.
"If there is an investment in Rappler, it will be a personal one," he said. "To show support to Maria."
Why is someone who got flak for putting PLDT and Digitel together contemplating a mega-merger and investments in another industry?
"We believe that there's a lot of synergies that can happen between a telco, which is a broad range of delivery platforms and media, which is basically a content generator," he said.
"The intent is to replicate what other media groups have done elsewhere in the world."
GMA-7and TV 5 compete with ABS-CBN, parent of the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) and ABS-CBNnews.com.