MANILA, Philippines — Are TV5 and GMA networks all set for a new competition in the Manny Villar-owned Advanced Media Broadcasting System (AMBS), Inc.?

Last January, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) granted broadcast frequencies to AMBS that were previously assigned to ABS-CBN Corp., whose franchise was denied by Congress in 2020.

Since then, unconfirmed rumors swirled about certain TV personalities being recruited to transfer to the broadcast media company backed by the business tycoon and former Senate president Villar.

In an interview during the recent contract-signing for Top Class, an upcoming reality show in partnership with Cornerstone Entertainment and Kumu, Cignal TV and TV5 CEO and president Robert P. Galang told The STAR that they’d welcome the arrival of the new competition.

“Well, we welcome them. The industry really is open,” Galang said.

For him, the Filipino audience will ultimately benefit from this development.

TV host Willie Revillame didn’t renew his contract with GMA last month to join former Senate president Manny Villar’s Advanced Media Broadcasting System (AMBS).

Photos from TV5, GMA, Wowowin and Abacan’s social media pages

“Having more (industry) players, the winner will be the Filipino audience. They get to choose from a wide array of content across different platforms,” Galang added.

Currently, TV5 has partnership deals with different content producers, including ABS-CBN, allowing the latter to air some of its entertainment programs on the Kapatid network such as the long-running FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano and ASAP Natin ‘To.

Speaking about the partnerships they’ve started since 2020, Galang had said in a previous interview, “Nung nangyari yung 2020, I guess yung position naman ng TV5, we’re willing to partner with anybody, everybody. And we also felt at that particular time, hirap ang industry, may isang nag-shut down ng operations, isang network, and then because of the pandemic, yung iba naman di gumagawa ng bagong shows, di ba?

“And we really have a lot of talent in this industry. We just said, you know, we cannot discriminate. ‘Di naman kami nagmamalaki din eh, we’re still working our way up… We don’t support yung mga naka-lock-in yung mga talents within their networks. We really want to support the talents, people in this industry to be able to find work. So in-open lang namin, di kami namili, basta willing to work with us also because two-way din naman yun.”

The Kapatid boss also said they’re “very open” to having more ABS-CBN shows on TV5.

“We have to respect ABS for being great creators of content, and when it would be beneficial for TV5 and for ABS as well to add more hours, then we will do so,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a recent virtual interview with GMA executives about upcoming developments on the Kapuso front, they were also asked about their thoughts about AMBS.

They also welcomed any new competition because “it puts us on our toes.”

“Ang dami na naman nating nakalaban, di ba? Ang dami na rin nating naabangan na in, one way or another, tumapat sa atin. This is a game. So, maglaro tayo nang maayos. So, let’s see — may mananalo, may matatalo,” said Joey Abacan, GMA first vice president for program management, when asked if they felt threatened by the incoming broadcasting network.

“I welcome it! Because, you know, in a way, marami rin namang magkakatrabaho na ibang mga tao. Magkakapatid tayo sa industriya. So, every time na may sumusulpot na ganyan, merong magkakatrabaho. Merong magkakaroon ng programa,” he added.

Lilybeth Rasonable, senior vice president for GMA Entertainment Group, agreed that competition means “more work for more people.”

Lilybeth Rasonable, senior vice president for GMA Entertainment Group.

“We’re confident naman because we have good shows and we have good producers,” Rasonable stressed.

Abacan also finds competing with themselves a scary scenario. “(Kung tayo lang), ang corny naman di ba? Naramdaman mo yun nung una, paano kaya tayo papagalitan ngayon? Yun pala, kinakalaban na natin ang sarili natin. Nakakatakot, di ba? So, mas maganda yung meron ka ring competition, so that you know, you see the other side of the fence as well.”

Told by the press that AMBS’ official foray into the media landscape might take long to materialize, Abacan believes that “pinag-aaralan na yata nila kaya iniwan na ako ng isa,” in apparent reference to former GMA blocktimer Willie Revillame.

AMBS stirred more interest after Revillame no longer renewed his GMA contract for his popular variety show, Wowowin, last month. The program said goodbye on Feb. 11 after almost seven years with the network.

To recall, during his farewell episode, Revillame shared the letter he wrote to GMA chairman and CEO Felipe Gozon where he explained the non-renewal was out of delicadeza following his talks with Villar, who asked his help in starting a network from scratch.

Revillame clarified at that time that putting up a channel was still being studied and there weren’t concrete plans yet. The TV host said, “Iyan ho ang katotohanan. Wala hong plano pa kasi hindi ho ganoon kadaling magbukas ng isang channel. Saka, saan ang studio nila? Saan magso-show? Hindi ho ganun kadali. It will take time.”

Joey Abacan, GMA first vice-president for program management.

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