GMA Network not for sale - Duavit

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 10 2012 07:54 AM | Updated as of Feb 10 2012 10:06 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A top official of broadcast giant GMA Network Inc. emphasized yesterday that the company is not for sale.

GMA president and chief operations officer Gilberto Duavit Jr. told The STAR that the company has not been offered to any party that may have an interest in acquiring it.

He pointed out that this is markedly different from saying that the company may be for sale at the right price “as our chairman has been quoted as stating.”

“Further, (GMA chairman and CEO) Atty. Felipe Gozon has not quoted a price for the company. The figures publicly uttered by Atty. Gozon in some interviews were simply mentioned by him in reaction to the rumors at the time that GMA had been acquired by the PLDT Group for P500 billion,” Duavit explained.

He stressed that that the numbers were mentioned in jest and were intended to imply how outrageous the amount of P500 billion was thought to be.

It has been reported that the group of Manuel V. Pangilinan, which owns TV5, is again in talks to acquire GMA. A number of years back, the same group was in negotiations to purchase a majority stake in the network but the talks bogged down. At that time, the value of GMA was placed at P14 billion.

Meanwhile, Duavit said that performance-wise, last year was both a challenging yet gratifying year for GMA.

“On the financial side, we saw a significant reduction in our top and bottom lines; owed in large part to the economic issues plaguing both Europe and the United States which led to ad-spend cutbacks from a number of our largest advertisers. This was further aggravated by the absence of (election-related) advertising which amounted to roughly P1.88 billion as booked in 2010,” he said.

He noted that while they still managed to grow the total business from regular, trade advertisers, the growth, as tempered by the cutbacks, was unable to compensate for the absence of the political ad revenue.

The opposite, however, can be said about their ratings performance last year, he said. In 2011, GMA continued to widen its lead in both the Mega Manila and total Luzon survey areas just as it succeeded in reducing the ratings gap with its nearest competitor in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Duavit said that as a result, GMA now leads in the national ratings based on data provided by AGB Nielsen.

He said they are optimistic that this year will prove to be a far better year than 2011.

“Starting the year as the leader in the national ratings, roughly 70 percent of our revenue target for this year has already been accounted for through commitments from our big volume advertisers. Alongside this, our international business continues to grow as propelled by the recent launch of our third international channel offering, GMA News TV, and the increasing number of pay-TV systems which will be carrying our two existing channels within the year. Indications that government spending will increase significantly this year are also causes for optimism,” he said.