Dispatch

MANILA — ABC-5 owner Edward Tan has sold the No. 3 terrestrial network to Antonio Cojuangco Jr., former chairman of the dominant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), for about $83 million.

Cojuangco also owns Dream Broadcasting, the country’s first digital direct-to-home TV company; the buy-in is a strategic move to push Dream and to make ABC-5 a major player in the network war dominated by ABS-CBN, owned by the Lopez family, and GMA Network, owned by the Gozun, Duavit and Jimenez families.

Cojuangco’s family owned PLDT before it was sold to the Indonesian-controlled Metro Pacific group.

The new ABC is expected to target the burgeoning middle- to upper-class youth market. ABS-CBN and GMA focus on lower-income markets, which lap up local comedies, variety shows and Filipino and Chinese telenovelas (chinovelas). The younger auds have abandoned these for cable TV.

ABC-5 may win auds with foreign shows, including “ER” and “Friends,” and a growing base of locally produced shows. ABC has 15 stations and 100 cable TV affiliates.

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