Palace defends gov't, DOJ following grant of ABS-CBN frequencies to Villar firm

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Palace defends gov't, DOJ following grant of ABS-CBN frequencies to Villar firm
In this photo taken Feb. 14, 2020, ABS-CBN employees, supporters and various rights group gather in front of the ABS-CBN main office in Quezon City to join in the Black Friday protest calling for the renewal of the network’s franchise.
The STAR / Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission's decision to grant the frequencies previously held by ABS-CBN to a media company linked to former senator Manny Villar was based on its rules and on existing laws, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the NTC did not mention any name when it sought the legal opinion of the Department of Justice on the allocation of available frequencies.

"When NTC went to the DOJ, it was purely asking a legal question. There was no mention of any names of anyone or any private company or any entity. It was a pure legal question asking for a legal opinion from the Department of Justice regarding authority to allocate unused and available frequencies and the power to issue provisional authorities," he told CNN Philippines.

Nograles claimed that the NTC went to the Office of the Executive Secretary "only to seek guidance on the authority to assign available and unused frequencies."

"Again, there was no mention of any name, or any entity whatsoever," the Palace official said.  

"So these are just purely questions. It's really up to the NTC based on their rules and regulations and based on existing laws," he added.

The telecommunication regulator has granted Villar-owned Advanced Media Broadcasting System (AMBS) a provisional authority to install, operate and maintain a digital television broadcasting system in Metro Manila and Mega Manila using Channel 16. It has also temporarily assigned Channel 2 to AMBS "for simulcast purposes" 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," the NTC said.

The development came nearly two years after a House panel rejected a bill that would have given ABS-CBN a fresh franchise, a decision widely perceived to be an attempt to curtail press freedom. Because of the non-renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise, thousands of the television network's employees were laid off while the country is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some groups have linked the granting of frequencies previously held by ABS-CBN to AMBS to politics, describing it as a midnight deal intended to favor President Duterte's allies. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has also expressed concern over the move, saying regulatory processes can be used against perceived critics of the government.  

The NTC has said that the AMBS was granted the provisional authority after the determination of its legal, technical, and financial qualification. The DOJ, the information and communications technology department, and the Office of the Executive Secretary did not object to the decision, the regulator added.



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with