Filipino tycoons Oscar Lopez and Manuel Pangilinan cancel media deal amid congressional probe

Filipino tycoons Oscar Lopez and Manuel Pangilinan have scrapped a proposed media deal announced just three weeks ago after politicians threatened to launch a congressional investigation.

As part of the agreement signed on August 10, ABS-CBN controlled by Lopez. agreed to buy a 35% stake in TV5 Network, which is owned by Pangilinan-led MediaQuest, a unit of telecommunications giant PLDT, for 2.2 billion pesos ($39 million). Both parties “have mutually agreed to terminate the investment agreement,” ABS-CBN said in a regulatory filing Thursday.

The deal would have helped rekindle ABS-CBN’s dominance in the Philippine media industry. Congress rejected the company’s request to renew its free-to-air franchise for another 25 years in May 2020, after the network angered former president Rodrigo Duterte, who vowed to force it off the air after failing to air some of its political ads during the 2016 presidential campaign. Its old broadcast frequencies have been reassigned to billionaire Manuel Villar’s advanced media delivery system, which is preparing to launch its network later this year.

The cancellation comes a week after ABS-CBN and TV5 said they had agreed to “pause” the deal to address issues raised by the National Telecommunications Commission and some lawmakers. The proposed sale of a stake in Lopez Group SkyCable’s cable TV unit to MediaQuest’s Cignal Cable has also been terminated.

Since the government revoked its free-to-air franchise, ABS-CBN airs its shows on digital channels and some of its content is also aired by TV5. The company remains in the red, posting another net loss of 1.4 billion pesos in the six months to June. Its shares fell 13% to 9.31 pesos in afternoon trading on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

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