Pacquiao in TV deal row

2009-03-20 11:43

Manila - Philippines boxing superstar Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao faces a potential scrap with two television stations after abruptly dumping one of them ahead of his May 2 showdown with Ricky Hatton.

GMA Network said it was taking legal advice and it was "very disappointed" with his transfer to rival ABS-CBN.

It came after Pacquiao ended a contract with cable television outfit Solar Sports, which buys air time from listed GMA.

The much-awaited Las Vegas welterweight fight between the four-times world champion and Britain's Hatton is set to become one of the richest prize fights in boxing history with an estimated $60m in combined purses and television rights.

Pacquiao fights are a huge television draw in the Philippines, where police say even criminals and anti-government guerrillas take the day off when he is boxing.

In a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange, GMA said Pacquiao switched to the rival network after ABS-CBN allegedly offered him "full media support" in next year's elections.

The boxer is expected to mount a second bid for a congressional seat, three years after his first attempt spectacularly failed.

GMA said helping him win the election would be against the law.

ABS-CBN rejected the allegation as "not true." Spokesperson for Pacquiao could not be reached for comment.

Solar Sports said Pacquiao's move for a new local television partner was a "purely business move" that "tramples upon other parties' rights."

GMA meanwhile warned that it has a separate exclusive television contract with Pacquiao and "GMA has not given him its consent to appear in ABS-CBN."

The rival network retorted that "Manny's fights are not programmes, shows, promotion, or events of ABS-CBN."

The network also insisted it did not violate Solar Sports' rights, arguing Pacquiao rescinded his Solar contract before signing with ABS-CBN.