MVP 'misquoted' on TV5-GMA merger: Espinosa

Posted at 06/04/12 11:14 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Rumors of an impending merger between TV5 network and rival GMA Network were once again ignited on Monday.

A report by Philippine Star columnist Ricky Lo published on Monday indicated that the two networks have "merged" and will formally launch by the end of November.

Lo's report said business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan "virtually confirmed" the merger during a press conference in San Francisco, California on Saturday for the partnership between TV5 and Dish Network. Dish Network offers both TV5 and GMA Pinoy TV to US subscribers.

However, Ray C. Espinosa, TV5 President and CEO, said the report "misquoted" Pangilinan. He said no agreement has been made, although the interest in GMA Network remains.

"MVP was misquoted. He did not say there was already an agreement between TV5 and GMA7. The TV5-GMA7 bundled offering on the Dish Network is a marketing strategy of the Dish Network. This does not mean TV5 and GMA7 have already agreed to merge," Espinoza said, in a statement.

"There is no such thing as a Nov. deadline. We do not know where that came from. The interest in GMA7 remains but any transaction or deal would depend on a meeting of minds as to price and other essential matters," he added.

At the same time, TV5 host Arnel Ignacio posted on Twitter a photo of a text message he received from Pangilinan, who denied mentioning any merger with GMA Network.

In the text message, Pangilinan did say that there were ongoing discussions with GMA, but nothing has been finalized.

"All I said was - please support TV5 here in the States and by the way please support GMA 7 too (since Dish carries GMA). That was all. No mention of merger, investment, combination. Certainly, no mention of a November deadline, or any deadline at all," Pangilinan's message read.

"Sure, some people speculated and all I said was I can now saw we re under discussion but nothing finalized at this time," he added.

For its part, GMA Network told the stock exchange it was not in a position to make a comment on the reported merger agreement with TV5.

"We are not in a position to comment since we are not the source of the quote or information or to definitely say whether the information is accurate or not. To the best of our knowledge, the source of this information is claiming to have been misquoted," GMA Network said, in a disclosure to the stock exchange.

In the past few months, there have been persistent reports about the merger between GMA and TV5, but both parties have played it coy.

Pangilinan has earlier said that his group would be interested in buying into GMA Network.

However GMA Network chairman Felipe Gozon insisted they are not selling the network, but are open to any possible buyout offers.

Gozon owns 20% of GMA, while the Duavit and Jimenez families own 23% each. - With Coco Alcuaz, ABS-CBN News Channel