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Ex-pats get a taste of home

World Brief

MANILA — Leading Filipino terrestrial commercial broadcaster GMA is launching an international channel for ex-pats in the U.S. called GMA Pinoy TV.

This comes as GMA postpones its initial public offering due to a shareholders spat over the timing, valuation and number of shares to sell.

GMA has recently grabbed market leadership, ratings and profits from arch-rival network ABS-CBN. Now it also wants to grab international auds from ABS-CBN, which already airs the Filipino Channel (TFC) for overseas consumption.

GMA Pinoy TV will bring news, entertainment and public affairs programs to ex-pats in the U.S. later this year, and has already bowed in Japan via a partnership with Access TV, owned by Japanese telco IPS.

However, the IPO, announced earlier this month by GMA prexy and CEO Felipe Gozon, has been indefinitely postponed due to disagreements between the three shareholders.

The Gozon and Duavits families, who hold 30% and 35%, respectively, of GMA combined forces to gain control of the network from former GMA chairman Menardo Jimenez, whose family owns the remaining 35%.

The company was supposed to sell 30% of its stock to the public to raise about 9 billion Philippines pesos ($166 million), including some shares held by present stockholders.

However, the Jimenez family refused to sign a pre-IPO agreement specifying that control of the company must remain with existing shareholders.

The Jimenez family now wants to sell its stake, and shareholders fear it could go to the bullish Philippines Long Distance Telephone Co.

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