The National Telecommunication Commission on Wednesday defended the award of TV frequencies previously held by ABS-CBN Corp. to a company controlled by the family of former Senator Manuel Villar.
The NTC said in a statement it granted the frequencies to Advanced Media Broadcasting System Inc. as it was “the first applicant for an authority to install, operate and maintain a digital TV in Metro Manila as filed on Oct. 5, 2006.”
It said ABMS received provisional authority after the determination of its legal, technical and financial qualification.
A local think tank, however, called on the Villar family to waive the frequencies. “Like in many instances in this administration, what is legally and procedurally sound is not necessarily correct nor acceptable to the public,” said Terry Ridon, convenor of Infrawatch PH.
The NTC granted ABMS a provisional authority to install, operate and maintain a digital terrestrial television broadcasting station in Metro Manila and Mega Manila using Channel 16 (482-488 Mhz) with digital ERP of 10 kW for 18 months.
ABMSI also secured an authority to test broadcast analog TV Channel 2 from Jan. 6, 2022 until the analog technology is shut off in the country.
The NTC said it also granted Swara Sug Media Corp. a provisional authority to operate DTTB services in Metro Manila/Mega Manila using Channel 43.
Aliw Broadcasting Corp. secured a provisional authority to operate DTTB services in Metro Manila/Mega Manila using Channel 23.
These frequencies were previously held by ABS-CBN.
The NTC in 2020 ordered ABS-CBN to stop operations following the expiration of its congressional franchise.
Republic Act No. 7966, which granted ABS-CBN a 25-year franchise to operate TV and radio broadcasting stations, expired on May 4, 2020.
The Radio Control Law bars the operation of a radio broadcasting station without a franchise from Congress.
The frequencies were unused for several months after ABS-CBN Channel 2 went off the air on May 5, 2020 after losing its license.
The Villar family owns Planet Cable, a cable TV and fiber internet provider, which acquired a controlling interest in Advanced Media in 2019 from the Vera family.
The transfer of the franchise was approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives.