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Coloma: Privatization of RPN 9, IBC 13 in the works

March 1, 2011 5:10pm
The government is now working for the privatization of sequestered television stations RPN 9 and IBC 13, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Sonny Coloma said Tuesday.

He said the Privatization Council under Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima is now working out the sale of the government’s stake in the two broadcast networks upon the instruction of President Benigno Aquino III.

“By policy President Aquino would want us to divest ourselves of the two erstwhile private networks," he told reporters after the signing of the memorandum of cooperative undertaking between PCOO and the Ad Foundation chaired by Ruperto Nicdao Jr. of the Makabayang Pilipino campaign.

“According to the law there is only one government television network and that is People’s Television Network Inc. (Channel 4)," he added.

Aside from Purisima, included in the council are representatives from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Privatization Management Office (PMO).

Coloma said the privatization program for the networks will be done through competitive bidding.

RPN 9 and IBC 13 were sequestered after the late President Corazon Aquino, mother of President Aquino, took over in 1986, replacing Ferdinand Marcos. The networks were put in auction that year.

Asked on the signing off of RPN 9, Coloma said it will only be temporary to pave the way for the new programming concept of Solar Entertainment, which owns 34 percent of the network.

Iyong Solar, papalitan iyong programming ng Channel 9 (Solar will change the programming of Channel 9) and they will adopt the entire programming of ETC, their entertainment channel on Cable," he said.

Coloma assured the employees of RPN 9 that they will not be affected by the new programming scheme. “Their employment is secured and they will remain as employees of the network," he said.

He said from 1986 to 2009, the government owned 86 percent of RPN 9’s shares with 14 percent held by private stockholders.

In March 2009 the government approved — through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) with the concurrence of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the Office of Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) — the conversion into equity of the advances made by Solar Entertainment.

Considering the 34 percent equity of Solar, the government’s stake has been reduced from 86 percent to 52 percent.

Then in July 2010, the Supreme Court decided with finality and with a writ of execution to recognize the shareholdings of Far East Managers and Investors Inc. (FEMI), an organization affiliated with the estate of the late Ambassador Roberto S. Benedicto.

The SC awarded to FEMI 22 percent of the shares, further reducing government share to 30 percent.

Coloma said the government is now drawing up the terms of reference for the privatization program, which he said has been long overdue.

After Channel 9, the government will focus on the privatization of IBC 13, which is still wholly owned by the government.

However, Coloma said a significant asset of Channel 13 in effect has been privatized because the network entered into a joint venture agreement with Prime Realty, associated with the R-II Builders Group of Reghis Romero Jr.

Under the agreement signed in March 2010, 3.5 hectares of Broadcast City is to be developed into a real estate project. The entire project is valued at P780 million, P280 million of which has been paid out in cash to satisfy the claims of the employees in terms of the contractual benefits owed to them by the network, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement

Since it is a joint venture agreement with a real estate development, the remaining .5 hectares will be used for the broadcast facilities of IBC 13.

“We will privatize the broadcast facility so whoever buys the network will operate the facility," Coloma said. - Amita O. Legaspi/KBK, GMA News
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