ABS-CBN’s Lopez unfazed by Duterte’s ‘karma’ threat
MANILA — The owner of ABS-CBN Corp. brushed aside President Duterte’s latest criticism of bias against the media giant, saying it came with the territory.
“It’s part and parcel of our work being a media institution,” Eugenio “Gabby” L. Lopez III, ABS-CBN chair, told a worried shareholder during the company’s annual meeting on Thursday.
ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer were singled out by President Duterte among the media organisations that have showed or published what he deemed to be unfair or slanted reports about him, including those on his war on drugs. The death toll of the Philippine National Police’s anti-drug operaitons has drawn attention and condemnation in the Philippines and abroad.
“Let me just say, we have not yet encountered an administration that at one point or another had not had some issue with the media in general, and ABS-CBN in particular,” Lopez said.
This is the first time an official of ABS-CBN had spoken publicly on the matter, having refrained from releasing any statement in the wake of Mr. Duterte’s comments. The Philippine Daily Inquirer earlier said it “took exception” to the President’s remarks.
This might also be the last time the company would address the issue, with Lopez noting “the way we will deal with these problems are not in the public eye, but privately.”
Lopez was seeking to reassure investors on Thursday, as some worried about Mr. Duterte’s threat of “karma” that would befall the media organisations he mentioned.
The investor also asked about ABS-CBN’s congressional franchise, which is set to expire on 2020. “Definitely there’s a little political noise, but we don’t anticipate this [approval process] will undergo any significant problems,” Lopez said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Duterte’s statements have had little to no impact on its day to day business, chief strategy officer Raymund Miranda told reporters on Thursday.
ABS-CBN still derives over half of its revenues from television advertising, which is closely linked to viewership.
“We continue to be up. We are doing well in terms of our ratings,” Miranda said.
“I think it’s being relevant, it’s really just that,” he added, as he denied any bias in their news reporting of Mr. Duterte.
ABS-CBN Corp. saw profits surge last year, with a big boost coming from election-related advertising ahead of the May 9 presidential polls. Its full-year 2016 net income hit P3.5 billion, a year-on-year gain of 39 percent. Full year revenues hit P41.6 billion, up 9 percent.
Miranda said the company’s share price remained stable, even after the company was singled out by Mr. Duterte. The company shares, which closed unchanged at P46 each on Thursday, have gained about 4.5 percent so far this year. That figure, however, is down 22 percent from its peak in April last year, just weeks before election day. SFM
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