MANILA, March 19, 2004 (STAR) By Zinnia B. Dela PeŮa - Media giant ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. is looking at further expanding its operations in Australia and Canada in line with the continued development of its international business.

ABS-CBN chief financial officer Randy Estrellado said the company is keen on widening its presence in Australia and Canada given the high concentration of Filipinos in those two areas.

Estrellado, however, said the firmís top priority is Europe, where ABS-CBN had just set up a cable and direct-to-home (DTH) satellite in December. North America though, remains ABS-CBNís major cable market with at least 130,000 subscribers.

Through The Filipino Channel (TFC), the first and only 24-hour cable and satellite service that offers all-Filipino programming, Filipinos in Milan, Italy can now view ABS-CBNís entertainment and news programs.

ABS-CBN is currently negotiating with a Canadian cable company to offer a similar 24-hour all-Filipino cable services in Canada.

The broadcast network also intends to expand its cable services in Asia, particularly in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

TFC is seen by almost a million overseas Filipinos in North America, Japan, Indonesia, New Caledonia, Cambodia, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Papua New Guinea and Europe.

International unit ABS-CBN Global Ltd. registered net sales of P2.37 billion last year, up by 24 percent from the previous yearís P1.92 billion. The amount accounted for 65 percent of ABS-CBNís total net sales and services.

Bulk of ABS-CBN Globalís revenues came from subscription revenues of its cable and DTH service with an estimated viewership base of 1.3 million by end-2003.

ABS-CBN, which started its global expansion in 1998, is exporting its locally-produced programs like soap operas, game shows and youth programs in the international market through its international sales and distribution.

To further improve its revenues, ABS-CBN is looking at selling its programs to new markets in Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. The move follows the successful launch of the companyís two drama series Ė "Pangako Sa Iyo" and "Mula Sa Puso" in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei in 2002.

With the good pickup of the local series among Asian countries, ABS-CBN is eyeing India, China and other Mandarin-speaking countries, as well as Eastern Europe and Latin America for its next targetted sites.

ABS-CBN is also planning to hook up with the biggest production house in India for the airing of a drama anthology.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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