Since August, ABC-5 has been known as TV5, which now offers
24/7 programming and operates a brand new transmitter. Management explained
that ABC-5 had entered into a "major blocktime agreement" with MPB Primedia
Inc., a Philippine corporation backed by Media Prima Berhad of Malaysia.
During the TV5 press launch, TV5 CEO Christopher Sy pointed
out that "ABC-5 is still owned by Tonyboy Cojuangco. Prime Media has simply
entered into a blocktime agreement but we do not have any equity in this
Little did everyone know that by that time, GMA-7 had already filed a complaint
regarding the "unconstitutionality" of having Malaysian investors being
involved in the "programming content and airtime sales" of TV5.
Mr. Dick Perez, GMA-7 vice-president for legal affairs, told PEP (Philippine
Entertainment Portal) that they already filed complaints last August but it
took them some time to gather data regarding this matter.
Why did they file the suit just now—three months after TV5
was launched publicly?
"We only did what we had to do, which is to file a complaint in administrative
agencies such as the National Telecommunications Commission and the National
Bureau of Investigation. A few months later, we decided to elevate it to the
courts," explains Mr. Perez in a phone interview with PEP earlier tonight, December 3.
Article XVI, Section 3, of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states:
"The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the
Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and
managed by such citizens."
For this reason, GMA-7 is asking the Quezon City Regional Trial Court to
nullify the blocktime agreement between MPB Primedia and TV5. They argue that
this agreement violates the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which restricts
ownership and management of mass media to Filipino citizens or corporations.
GMA-7 is also claiming a total of P11 million for damages, including
attorney's fees and litigation expenses, from TV5, MPB, and MPB Primedia to
compensate for the loss of revenues due to unfair competition.
PEP asked TV5's media relations head Pat Marcelo-Magbanua
for their reaction to this development but she replied through a text message:
"We haven't received a copy of the complaint so we're not yet in a position to
make a comment. As soon as we have a reply, we will let you know."
Here is the statement from GMA-7 (published in full):
"GMA Network, Citynet, and ZOE Broadcasting have filed a
lawsuit against ABC-5, Malaysian company Media Prima Berhad (MPB), and MPB
Primedia for allegedly entering into an unlawful blocktime agreement.
"GMA Network is asking the Quezon City Regional Trial Court
to nullify the blocktime agreement between MPB Primedia and ABC-5 as the
agreement violated the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which restricts ownership
and management of mass media to Filipino citizens or corporations.
"The said blocktime agreement allowed MPB Primedia to control
and manage ABC-5's programming content and airtime sales.