PLDT to review EchoStar JV plans

18 Aug 2006
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(Business World via NewsEdge) Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) is expected to review its bid to enter into a partnership agreement with EchoStar Communications after the latter signed a global joint-venture deal with former rival DirecTV Group

DirecTV already has an existing agreement with another Filipino firm, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., through its wholly owned subsidiary ABS-CBN International. In fact, ABS-CBN is set to complete this month the transfer of its foreign DTH subscribers to News Corp.-owned DirecTV.

Under the deal between ABS-CBN and DirecTV, which was signed in July last year, DirecTV would have the exclusive right to air The Filipino Channel or TFC package on the DTH platform, allowing ABS-CBN to get rid of the losing distribution business and instead focus solely on content making.

The TFC package includes The Filipino Channel, Cinema One, ABS- CBN News Channel, Pinoy Central TV, and two audio channels, dzMM and dwRR.

ABS-CBN is a sister company of Central CATV Inc., which runs the pay-television brand SkyCable, and where PLDT has a minority stake of 33.5% through its wholly owned subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc.

"Too early to comment on the matter. We don't know the implication [of the venture] on our offer yet. Let the dust settle first. But this early, we can say that we are still interested to partner with EchoStar," PLDT spokesperson Ramon Isberto said.

Earlier, PLDT said it was targeting to close a joint-venture agreement with EchoStar and to acquire GV Broadcasting Systems before the end of this year.

PLDT has an existing agreement with EchoStar through wholly owned subsidiary ePLDT's Parlance Systems Inc., which has been providing outsourced call center services to DTH subscribers of EchoStar in the United States since March 2002.

© 2006 BusinessWorld (Philippines)

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