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ABS-CBN shutdown leaves leagues without TV partner

By: Cedelf P. Tupas - Inquirer.net | May 07,2020 - 08:56 AM

The UAAP and ABS-CBN failed to come to terms to a contract extension before the television giant was shut down by the government following the expiration of its franchise on Tuesday night.

ABS-CBN has been airing UAAP games on its UHF channel, Studio 23, and later when the channel was rebranded to S and A since 2000, but the latest contract that the collegiate league and the network signed—a five-year extension in 2014—will end on May 31.

“Yes, the contract is up, but the UAAP and ABS-CBN have already met five to six times to discuss the extension,” a reliable source told the Inquirer.

“UAAP and ABS-CBN have promised to negotiate in good faith so entertaining a third party before the expiration of the contract is out of the question.”

The source admitted the uncertainty on the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise had played a part on why the talks have stalled.

Calls and text messages of the Inquirer, seeking a reaction from UAAP executive director Rebo Saguisag, were not answered on Tuesday.

Although UAAP officials have remained tight-lipped on the matter, the deal signed in 2014 reportedly got a significant hike from the P50 million that ABS-CBN was paying the league per season in an earlier agreement.

The Inquirer ran a report on the UAAP’s current package with ABS-CBN, which paid the league the total sum of P400 million for the last five years for the rights to telecast all of its games.

That rounds up to P80 million a year, or P8 million per participating school, and that is before the gate receipts are factored in.

“We are sure that ABS-CBN has made that amount up already, and they have realized some profit after the basketball event,” the source, who was part of the negotiating team for the league five years ago, had told the Inquirer.

But the last five years saw the network giant expand its coverage in other UAAP sports events like baseball and football, which was also made available on live-streaming.

The new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic however, forced the league to cancel the remaining events of the UAAP season last month.

The country’s oldest collegiate league, the NCAA, also has an existing contract with the network that will last until 2025.

NCAA mangement committee chair Peter Cayco remains hopeful that the network can resolve its problem.

“We’ve known about the problem for a while,” Cayco said. “We just have to be patient. But of course, we will sit down with ABS-CBN to discuss how we can move forward. We’re ready to stick it out with ABS-CBN.”

ABS-CBN also holds broadcast rights of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League and the Premier Volleyball League.

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