MANILA, January 10, 2004  (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - The Philippine Basketball Association will soon become a regular daily primetime television show as ABC-5, under new management, features PBA games and special events as part of the network’s aggressive reprogramming in a bid to challenge giant rivals in the industry.

Officials of both the PBA and the Associated Broadcasting Company made the announcement as they confirmed The STAR’s exclusive report yesterday that they have forged partnership for the exclusive broadcast rights of PBA games in a press conference at the Edsa Shangri-La.

At the same time, PBA commissioner Noli Eala said they’re close to signing a separate deal with the Araneta Coliseum, making the Big Dome the home of the league anew on an extended period.

The PBA will now feature double-headers on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays with lone out-of-town games on Thursdays.

However, ABC-5 will only air the entirety of twinbills on Saturdays and Sundays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. On Wednesdays, the live coverage is only the 7 p.m. second game.

The out-of-town games will also be covered live on Thursdays then the Wednesday’s first games are featured on Fridays also starting 7 p.m.

ABC-5 owner and chief executive officer Tonyboy Cojuangco said they’re looking at "Greatest PBA Games" as possible features on Mondays and Tuesdays. Regular programming of PBA games over ABC-5 starts as the PBA opens its transition tournament — the PBA Fiesta Cup — on Feb. 22 at the Araneta Coliseum.

"This is the forging of fresh companies both in transition and aggressively pursuing lofty positions in various industries. This could pave the way for the emergence of a stronger PBA and a stronger and definitely bigger ABC-5," said Eala.

"We only want to give the best of PBA coverage to our fans. And making the PBA a primetime commodity was our prime consideration as we joined forces with ABC-5," said new PBA chairman Buddy Encarnado.

"We’ve many ideas. I’ll not pretend to know the sport more than you (the sportswriters) do, but we know television and we promise to give great coverage," said ABC-5 top executive Bobby Barreiro.

Asked about the quality of the coverage, Cojuangco said it’s something that would have her aunt former President Cory Aquino shifting channels between her daughter’s show (Kris Aquino’s The Buzz) and the PBA on Sundays. Mrs. Aquino is said to be a big PBA fan.

On the PBA games featured on primetime, Barreiro said: "We wanted to create a viewing habit. In our experience, if there’s a habit (among televiewers to watch a particular show), it’s easier to rate. And we do believe the PBA is a good brand."

Both parties refused to divulge the terms of the deal but Encarnado admitted the league has opted for quality than quantity this time.

"For the last three deals, the board got the highest bidder and nothing happened. We’ve learned our lesson the hard way and we don’t want to falter this time," said Encarnado.

The STAR source said the PBA has agreed a guaranteed income of only a little over P100 million in 2004. The other income will be dependent on the sales of ABC-5.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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