PCGG urges gov’t to fast-track sale of RPN-9, IBC-13

Posted at 08/10/10 6:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines - It is high time that 2 state-controlled networks be privatized this year given the relatively peaceful political atmosphere, Presidential  Commission on Good Government Commissioner Ricardo Abcede said.

In a phone interview, Abcede said the government of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III does not need 3 government stations. "He needs only 1 to promote his programs," he said.

As an official of PCGG, Abcede is part of a group tasked to privatize the sequestered broadcast firms Radio Philippines Network (Channel 9) and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp. (Channel 13/IBC).

Abcede said politics have hampered privatization efforts in the last few years. He said the previous administration could have used the state-controlled assets, including the National Broadcasting Network (Channel 4), to defend itself from criticisms.

He said the sale of the TV stations could boost the country’s coffers, as the government tries to control a ballooning budget deficit.

“It just doesn’t make sense to subsidize 3 stations,” Abcede said. Other countries, in fact, make do with only 1 government station, he said.

He said the state networks should be considered a good buy for firms with huge marketing or advertising budget.

“I believe there will still be interested buyers. Why did [businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan] buy ABC/TV-5…because of a huge marketing budget. We can offer these to the likes of San Miguel Corp., Globe or a consortium of individuals or companies,” he said.

Brother Mike Velarde previously showed interest in IBC since his El Shaddai program airs there.

The government earlier tapped financial advisor CLSA Exchange Corp. for the appraisal of the assets.

IBC, which has rights to the frequency Channel 13, is estimated to cost P1.2 billion.

RPN, which airs on free TV Channel 9, only costs about P800 million to P1 billion “since it doesn’t have that much physical assets," Abcede said.

“Everything is set. It’s a matter of meeting again. We just need to discuss and iron out the kinks or details that have to be met [including separation pay, labor package for workers],” he said.

He admitted however, that he has not talked with the Department of Finance on the matter, since he is still waiting for developments whether he will be reappointed to the PCGG or not.

“This has been my priority when I came in. I believe that the government has no business being in business,” he said.

The government sequestered the assets in 1986 from Roberto S. Benedicto, a known ally of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

Benedicto later ceded control over the assets under a compromise agreement in 1990. With reports from Timi Nubla, ABS-CBN News