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ABS-CBN Frequencies Up For Grabs, Says Lawmaker

A lawmaker has announced that the ABS-CBN frequencies are technically now open for application by other broadcast networks.
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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ABS-CBN Corporation's frequencies that have been returned to the state can now be given to other broadcast companies after Congress rejected the franchise application of the Kapamilya network.

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This is according to House Legislative Franchises Committee vice chairmen Jonathan Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan and Mike Defensor of Anakalusugan party-list.

Sy Alvarado, in collaboration with Palawan Representative Frank Alvarez, formed the technical working group (TWG) to create a report on the rejected ABS-CBN franchise application.

Defensor was one of the most outspoken opponent of the ABS-CBN franchise application in the congressional hearings.

During the June 15 hearing, Defensor questioned why their application to Congress did not progress in 2015, during the time of President Noynoy Aquino, even though the Lopezes were close to the Aquino family.

At the Zoom meeting of pro-administration congressmen on July 17, seven days after the ABS-CBN franchise was rejected in Congress, Defensor proposed that ABS-CBN could be taken over by the government and run by network workers.

A report by the Philippine Star and One News yesterday, September 9, stated that Congress will not reserve such frequencies for ABS-CBN even if they apply again for another franchise in 2022.

As such, other broadcast companies can now apply for ABS-CBN frequencies.

Congressman Alvarado said, “It’s now open for application by other broadcast companies. Technically, the frequencies of ABS-CBN are returned to the state."

Their committee also found out that many broadcast companies have shown interest in the former frequencies of ABS-CBN.

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Alvarado added, “The challenge for them really is to match the capacity of ABS-CBN and its asset of having the most number of regional stations in the country. But I have not heard of any instance when the NTC rejected an applicant for an available frequency."

The expired ABS-CBN franchise granted by Congress in 1995, through Republic Act 7966, contains 42 free-to-air TV stations, 5 AM stations, 18 FM stations, and 10 digital television stations that can be operated by ABS-CBN nationwide.

Alvarado did not say which broadcast companies showed interest in ABS-CBN's frequencies.

According to the legislator, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is aware of this.

The NTC recently recalled the TV and radio frequencies assigned to ABS-CBN.

The NTC order stated on Thursday, September 10: "The denial of respondent's franchise renewal application by Congress, coupled with the denial of respondent's petition by the Supreme Court, lead to no other conclusion except that respondent had already lost the privilege of installing, operating, and maintaining radio broadcasting stations in the country.

"Consequentially, absent a valid legislative franchise, the recall of the frequencies assigned to respondent is warranted."

For now, ABS-CBN's remaining programs can only be watched online, cable, iWantTFC, and social media.

This story originally appeared on Pep.ph. It has been translated to English by Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Arniel C. Serato for PEP.ph
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