ABS-CBN shutdown 'highly politicized,' to weigh on foreign investments: Fitch Solutions

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2020 01:48 PM | Updated as of Jul 08 2020 04:16 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) — The “forceful termination” of multimedia giant ABS-CBN Corp and part of the services of its unit, Sky Cable, will weigh on the country’s ability to lure foreign investors, noting the decision was “highly politicized,” a report by Fitch Solutions said on Wednesday.

“The forceful termination of ABS-CBN and Sky’s broadcasts are highly politicized, and clearly linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s opposition toward ABS-CBN,” said Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research in its report.

In a press briefing, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the franchise issue is strictly with Congress, the sole body authorized to grant legislative franchises, and that the issue has no direct effect on investments.

“We have not seen any direct result of a slowdown in investments because of the ABS-CBN issue,” Dominguez said. 

The Philippines, in fact, recently raised $2.3 billion in bonds during the peak of ABS-CBN's franchise renewal issue, an evidence that investors "are very confident" in the Philippine economy, he said.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered ABS-CBN to stop its free TV and radio broadcasts on May 5 following the expiration of its legislative franchise, despite an earlier promise it would not do so while Congress deliberates on the network's franchise application. 

This was followed by a cease and desist order issued to Sky Cable Corp, an ABS-CBN subsidiary and one of the largest Philippine cable companies in the Philippines, for its direct-to-home satellite transmission or Sky Direct. 

“The regulator’s apparent ability to be influenced by the government continues to be a key impediment to foreign investor sentiment, and has also made the telecoms landscape difficult for both new entrants and existing players,” it said.

"For instance, the slow formulation of its tower sharing policy, which was released in a draft version in May 2020 following a protracted period of discussions and negotiations, highlights the slow pace of instituting reforms, and has partially contributed to the delay of new telecoms entrant, Dito Telecommunity, in rolling out its commercial services," it added.

Sky Cable earlier said the shutdown of its Sky Direct services will affect close to 1.5 million direct-to-home (DTH) subscribers. 

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