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Manny Villar Firm Takes Over Broadcast Frequencies Once Held by ABS-CBN

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A company linked to billionaire Manny Villar has been granted a provisional license to operate broadcasting services in Metro Manila via the frequencies that used to belong to ABS-CBN Corp.  

In a statement obtained by Esquire Philippines Tuesday night (January 25), the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has temporarily granted Advanced Media Broadcasting System Inc. (AMBS) the provisional authority to “install, operate and maintain a Digital Television (TV) Broadcasting System in Metro Manila/Mega Manila using Channel 16.” 

According to the test broadcast permit, AMBS was allowed to use the 55.25 MHz to 83.25 MHz frequencies for Channel 2, which was previously held by ABS-CBN.

“The operation of the subject radio station shall be done in accordance with the existing Radio Laws and Regulations,” the permit read.

AMBS is controlled by Planet Cable, a broadcaster owned by the Villar family. Planet Cable also requested a simulcast channel, which in this case, was Channel 2. 

“After the technical evaluation of AMBS’ request for a simulcast channel, Channel 2 (the paired analog channel in Mega Manila of digital channel 16) was temporarily assigned to AMBS,” the NTC statement read. “This temporary assignment is for simulcast purposes only, and only until the analog shut-off scheduled in 2023. The temporary assignment was granted to ensure service to both analog and digital TV signal users as the country transitions to full digital TV.” 

According to the NTC, the provisional authority was granted following guidance from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), a legal opinion from the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the concurrence of the Office of the President - Office of the Executive Secretary. 

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“AMBS was granted the PA after the determination of its legal, technical and financial qualification,” the statement read.  

AMBS’s 25-year franchise was approved in 2019. 

The commission added that AMBS was the first applicant for an authority to install, operate and maintain a digital TV in Metro Manila in 2006. Since then, the company has been waiting for an available digital TV frequency after undergoing a quasi-judicial process which includes notice to all interested or affected parties and a hearing.

NTC officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

ABS-CBN was forced to stop broadcast operations after Congress denied the renewal of its franchise in 2020. 

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