A firm tied to billionaire Manny Villar has been given a provisional license to broadcast in Metro Manila using frequencies previously owned by ABS-CBN Corp.
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 a statement obtained by Esquire Philippines Tuesday night (January 25).
AMBS was given permission to use the 55.25 MHz to 83.25 MHz frequencies for Channel 2, which were previously held by ABS-CBN, according to the test broadcast licence.
“The operation of the subject radio station shall be done in accordance with the existing Radio Laws and Regulations,” the permit read.
Planet Cable, a broadcaster controlled by the Villar family, owns AMBS. In addition, Planet Cable required a simulcast channel, which was Channel 2 in this case.
“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.”
The provisional power was provided following instruction from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), a legal opinion from the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the approval of the President’s Office – Office of the Executive Secretary, according to the NTC.
“AMBS was granted the PA after the determination of its legal, technical and financial qualification,” the statement read.
In 2019, AMBS received approval for a 25-year franchise.
In 2006, AMBS was the first company to apply for a license to build, operate, and maintain a digital television in Metro Manila, according to the commission. After a quasi-judicial process that included notice to all interested or affected parties and a hearing, the company has been waiting for an available digital TV frequency since then.
Officials from the NTC could not be reached for comment right away.
ABS-CBN was forced to halt broadcasting after Congress refused to extend its broadcasting license in 2020.
Manny Villar Firm Takes Over Broadcast Frequencies Once Held by ABS-CBN|Esquiremag