MANILA (UPDATE) - ABS-CBN Corp and TV5 have decided to put on hold the planned investment deal to address issues raised by several lawmakers and the National Telecommunications Commission.
Both public firms ABS-CBN and PLDT Inc earlier disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange ABS-CBN's planned 35 percent acquisition in PLDT subsidiary MediaQuest, which owns TV5.
ABS-CBN Corp plans to acquire 6,459,393 primary common shares in TV5 representing 34.99 percent of the total voting and outstanding capital stock of TV5 for P2.16 billion.
"To address the issues which have been raised by certain legislators and the National Telecommunications Commission on the proposed investment by ABS-CBN for a minority interest in TV5, ABS-CBN and TV5 have agreed to a pause in their closing preparations," the Lopez-led company said.
"The pause will give the space for both media organizations to respond to the issues, and accommodate any relevant changes to the terms," it added.
The ABS-CBN - TV5 agreement was expected to be completed within this month, subject to "fulfillment of certain closing conditions."
Both ABS-CBN and TV5 agreed that the deal will have a favorable impact on Philippine media.
The House panels on Trade and Industry, and Legislative Franchises are holding a hearing on the media companies’ deals as of this posting.
But prior to the hearing, Albay Congressman Edcel Lagman said the House hearing into the ABS-CBN and TV5 deal may result in the "derogation of press freedom and free speech."
"There is absolutely nothing wrong with that arrangement. What is definitely errant is when authorities trample on the freedom of expression and of the press," Lagman said in a letter to Speaker Martin Romualdez.
Meanwhile, independent think tank Infrawatch PH reiterated its view that the media deal does not require Congress’ approval as it “does not involve the sale of controlling shares of TV5 to another entity.”
The group added that since nether companies are dominant in the broadcast sector, “it is not a competition concern.”
“Finally, it is our position that the transaction breaches no NTC regulation, as ABS-CBN has more than adequately shown that it has no outstanding obligations in any agency of government.”
Infrawatch added that if the new government “is truly committed to its call for unity among our people, it should step aside and let this transaction proceed and allow all voices to be broadcast, no matter how inconvenient or discordant these voices may be.”
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