GMA  ACTS  TO SAVE  OLYMPIC TV COVERAGE

MANILA,  August 4, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Marichu Villanueva - President Arroyo yesterday ordered the Department of Budget and Management to guarantee the payment of past obligations that would enable the state-run NBN-4 to cover the Olympic Games kicking off Aug. 13 in Athens, Greece.

The President ordered yesterday DBM Secretary Emilia Boncodin to issue the official Philippine government guarantee required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow the state-run Nation Broadcasting Corp. (NBN) Channel 4 the rights as official Philippine carrier station for the live satellite coverage of the Olympic Games beamed from Athens.

Acting on orders of the President, the DBM Secretary transmitted yesterday to Michael Payne, IOC vice president for international marketing, the Philippine government official guarantee for the payment of the $1.2 million arrears the previous management of Channel 4 owed the IOC for the airing of the 1992 Olympic Games in Sydney.

Press Secretary Milton Alingod told The STAR yesterday they would call a press conference to announce the details of the payment scheme, including the possible filing of criminal charges against the previous management responsible for the multi-million dollar debt.

Alingod said President Arroyo yesterday called to an emergency meeting Boncodin and other key Cabinet members and top sports officials along with NBN-4 board of directors led by chairman Mia Concio and NBN general manager Jose Isabelo.

Emerging after the meeting yesterday, Isabelo told The STAR President Arroyo came to the rescue of NBN-4 to ensure sports-loving Filipinos would not miss watching the Olympic Games, particularly the participation of Filipino athletes, on their television sets.

"The President acted swiftly and what remains our problem is now the timelines for us to meet our obligations," Isabelo said.

As worked out with the IOC, Isabelo explained, the NBN would have to pay in installment basis the total arrears, half of which or $600,000 would have to be paid to the IOC within this week.

Half of this $600,000, Isabelo said, would be frontloaded by Jemah Television of Mark Roces which is the NBN partner in this Olympic undertaking.

The other half of this amount, he said, would be sourced by the DBM through the various contributions of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).

In the meantime, he said, to meet the IOC deadline, the DBM would "advance" the amount needed.

Isabelo said the NBN-4, on the other hand, had already put up $225,000 to pay for the "technical expenses" to bring the satellite feed of the Olympics through the Asian Broadcasting Union (ABU).

Once paid these amounts, he said, the ABU would deliver the "decoder boxes" to the NBN to allow it access to the satellite of the Olympic Games from Athens.

The remaining balance of $600,000, Isabelo said, would be paid in installment basis to the OIC over a 24-month basis or a two-year payment scheme to be settled by NBN-4 out of the proceeds and earnings from this venture.

Hence, he explained, there was a need for the official guarantee of the Philippine government.

The NBN-4 won the rights to air the Olympic Games but almost did not make it after the IOC found out its unpaid arrears in the past.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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