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Aquino government set to privatize RPN9, IBC13

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Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma stressed on Tuesday morning that the Aquino administration is committed to privatize broadcast networks RPN9 and IBC 13 and retain only People’s Television 4 as mandated by law.

In an ambush interview at the sidelines of the signing of the memorandum of cooperative undertaking at Bahay Ugnayan between PCOO and the Ad Foundation chaired by Ruperto Nicdao Jr. of the Makabayang Pilipino campaign, Coloma said the Privatization Council headed by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima is now working out the sale of the government’s stake in these broadcast networks in keeping with the President’s desire to privatize them. The Council is composed of the Department of Finance, the National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Trade and Industry and the Privatization Management Office (PMO).The privatization program for these networks, he said, will be done through competitive bidding and will be done as soon as possible.

The networks have been sequestered and were put in the auction block since 1986, when the Presidential Commission on Good Government took over. But this has not proceeded as fast and the President wants to dispose of them the soonest time possible, Coloma said citing that government is only mandated to operate one broadcast network, the People’s Television 4. 

He said Solar Entertainment, which owns 34 percent of RPN9, is just going to change the programming of the network into its ETC (Entertainment channel) but will offer this cable program in free TV. Solar will have to honor the collective bargaining agreement reached with the union to the extent the resources will allow. But nobody is being asked to resign, Coloma explained as he added that government, for its part, has been respecting the CBA with the RPN9 union all these years.

Coloma explained that from 1986 to 2009 the government has owned 86 percent with 14 percent held by private stockholders. In March 2009 the government approved, through the 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. So from 86 percent, less the 34 percent equity of Solar, the government’s stake has been reduced 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. So 52 percent (equity left with the government) less 22 percent of FEMI, what remains with government is 30 percent.

“We can look at the privatization in three phases: Phase 1 is the advances turned equity of Solar; Phase 2 is the awarding of 22 percent by SC to FEM and the Phase 3 involves the remaining government share will be privatized through the Privatization Council headed by Purisima,” Coloma said.
Coloma said the government is now drawing up the terms of reference for the privatization program, which is long overdue.

After Channel 9 we will work on the privatization of Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp.’s Channel 13, which is still wholly owned by the government.

Coloma said a significant asset of Channel 13 that 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 and the entire project is valued at P780 million, of which P280 million 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 CBA.

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

“But we will privatize the broadcast facility so whoever buys the network will operate the facility,” Coloma said.The value of IBC 13 will be based on the facility plus the .5 hectares of its current site. But the final value will be made by the Privatization Council of Purisima. (PCOO/PIA9-BST)




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