Live airing of PBA games in doubt after MVP announces end to block-time deal with '13'
TV5 and MediaQuest head Manny V. Pangilinan says the block-time agreement with IBC 13 has become "too expensive" for the company. Jerome Ascano

THE continued live aliring of the PBA games on television has suddenly been put in doubt after businessman Manny V. Pangilinan announced that his company, AKTV, will no longer extend its block time agreement with IBC 13.

AKTV, a subsidiary of MediaQuest Holdings Incorporated, airs the league games live over IBC 13 under a block time agreement with the state-run network - a set-up that Pangilinan said his company will discontinue once the current agreement ends in May.

In a talk with reporters, Pangilinan said the block time deal has become "too expensive," revealing that AKTV - MediaQuest's sports arm which also owns the rights to the NCAA games, the UFL, and, until recently, the Shakey's V-League matches - coughs up P150 million a month for six prime time hours daily on IBC 13.

Sources said AKTV has been losing money not just with the PBA coverage but in most of its ventures, with only a trickling of advertising revenue coming in.

“Mas malaki talaga yung gastos kaysa sa pasok,” said the source.

The same source said MediaQuest is now in the process of transfering the coverage of the pro league's games - as well as other ventures of AKTV - to TV5, which is also owned by the MVP group.

However, there are fears TV5 may not be in a position to commit to airing two live PBA games on prime time three days in a week - and four counting out-of-town matches that are usually played on Saturdays - because of the station's own crowded programming.

TV5 officials, in fact, had already requested a meeting with league commissioner Chito Salud to discuss the transition, even before Pangilinan made the surprise announcement on Thursday.

“We have to meet with them, para mapag-usapan kung paano ito masosolusyunan,” said a source from the station.

However, the transfer is encountering problems within the network since TV5 is also in transition, with Maynilad chair and longtime Pangilinan lieutenant Ricky Vargas and Patrick Gregorio set to take over the reins of the station from Bobby Barreiro.

The MVP group owns the TV rights to the PBA games under a five-year deal worth close to P1 billion that runs until 2015.

The ongoing PBA Commissioner's Cup, which ends on May 24 in case the finals goes the full route, will not be affected by the transition, with the move to TV5 set to begin in the Governors Cup.

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