Thursday, May 20, 2010


Ron Valdueza, ABS-CBN’s chief finance officer, shared a bit of good news about our “alma mater” last night.

Maloli Espinosa Supnet, a former colleague at ABS-CBN, prepared another sumptuous dinner – nilagang baka (complete with floating taba ng baka), inasal na talong and binagoongan ribs – at her home in Bethesda, Maryland.

Ron was visiting after attending a daughter’s college recognition in New Jersey (she was graduated with honors at a nursing college there).

Another former member of ABS-CBN’s Regional Network Group, Davao news anchor Jeffrey Manangan brought his family. He now works as a special education teacher in Washington DC. But we missed Aladin Bacolodan, another RNG original, who’s settled in Baltimore.

ABS-CBN, Ron declared, is back. Ratings are up and so are revenues. The company posted a nearly 470 percent jump in net income in the first three months of the year – buoyed by heavy spending on political ads for the May 10 elections.

Total political ad revenue was expected to exceed P1.5 billion (about $33 million).

Total revenues for 2010 is being projected to hit nearly P16 billion (about $350 million).

But it was especially heartening to hear Ron’s report that ABS-CBN Global, which runs The Filipino Channel (TFC) in San Francisco was now a major contributor to the parent company’s bottom line.

He said ABS-CBN Global, particularly its North American and Middle East operations, was now contributing about $1.5 million a month to the head office in Quezon City.

The rosy finances, he said, can be attributed to a balanced mix of higher revenues (higher rates and more air time sold) and reining in costs. He added this will enable ABS-CBN to repel any new challenges from competitors, especially the Manny Pangilinan-led TV-5.

We grew up with that ABS-CBN jingle proclaiming it as the “Philippine’s largest network” (the tune still sticks in our head like chewing gum on our shoes).

The recent Halalan election only seemed to reinforce that image of ABS-CBN, especially when you compared it to images of GMA-7’s “war room”. The corporate image ABS-CBN was trying to convey was unmistakable -- they’re big and formidable. Not exactly the picture that Ron was trying to convey, which was that of a “lean and mean” organization.

So which is it going to be – the elephant or the lion?

The biggest challenge, he added, was how to sustain the edge they now enjoyed.

This will redound to ABS-CBN’s thousands of employees and talents. Ron indicated they might even be able to afford a generous “var-pay” that could stretch all the way to Christmas. We can almost hear them asking, “ilang bagsak?”

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