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GMA Network and ABS-CBN Rivalry Spills Into Boxing
GMA and Solar Sports Formally Announced Pacquiao-Solis Coverage

THE ratings war between two of the country's giant TV networks has spilled over into the multi-million dollar business of boxing.

GMA-7 Network, longtime rival of ABS-CBN, recently entered into a partnership with cable sports leader Solar Entertainment Corporation to air the upcoming bout of Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao.

Yesterday, GMA and Solar Sports held a press conference at the Galaxias Lounge of the Diamond Hotel in Manila to formally announce their union. A source privvy to the TV deal said GMA Network agreed to sell their airtime with Solar and was willing to preempt for a day its top rating noon time weekend show so long as the Pacquiao fight will do equally well in the ratings.

The 28-year-old Pacquiao is slated to face unknown Mexican Jorge Solis on April 15 (Manila time) at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. During the presser officials of both networks declined to comment on recent reports regarding the amount paid
to Pacquiao to acquire the TVrights of the bout.

A whooping $800,000 was reportedly paid by Solar Sports to seal the deal with Pacquiao.

"All I can say is whatever amount were giving Manny, he deserves it. He is in the same league as Tiger Woods of Golf and Roger Federer of Tennis," said Solar COO Peter Chanliong.

However a source within the Pacquiao camp disclosed that boxer indeed got the reported amount that was paid solely by Solar. Chanliong expressed confidence they can at least recoup whatever expenses will be incurred for the TV airing.

Team Pacquiao were unaware of the merger between Solar and GMA.

They were never told that GMA will be involved in the showing of the fight. All Manny knew was that Solar will air it thru their cable channel and their timeslot with RPN-9, added the source.

The same source said Pacquiao signed on the dotted line with Solar after ABS-CBN offered a deal that turned out to be much lower than the price the boxer got for the third Erik Morales bout. For the Solis match ABS-CBN offered an amount lower than the $200,000 Manny was paid for the rights to the Morales bout, said the source.

Under the partnership Solar Sports will handle the production aspect of the fight while GMA will provide the airtime and some of their technical expertise.

Apart from GMA's TV channel, the fight will be shown simulcast over Solar's cable sports channel. According to Solar's VP for Sport Sales and Marketing Jude Torcuato GMA's free TV panel will most likely be handled by its own sports news TV talent Chino Trinidad and a still unnamed Filipino analyst while Solar will air the fight with the Pay-Per-Views American commentators.

We will be airing a minimum of three and a maximum of five minute-advertisement in between rounds, said Torcuato who also added that there will be live cinema viewings in different malls for those who prefer commercial free coverage.

Reports have it that the price for a single, 30-seconder spot could reach up to two million pesos. Present during the contract signing were GMAs VP for News Jessica Soho, SVP for News & Public Affairs Narissa Flores, EVP & COO Gilberto Duavit Jr. and Solar president Wilson Tieng.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Dennis Principe.

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