TWO months after a Philippine House of Representatives panel rejected ABS-CBN’s application for a new 25-year franchise, the media giant received another blow as the National Telecommunications Commission recalled the frequencies assigned to the network.
“Respondent has no valid franchise to continue operating television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide,” the NTC said in an eight-page decision dated September 9 and released on Thursday, September 10.
The decision ordered the recall of all of ABS-CBN’s free television and radio broadcasts nationwide, which included five AM radio stations, 18 FM radio stations, 42 TV stations, and 10 Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting (DTTB) stations.
It was signed by Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba and Deputy Commissioners Edgardo Cabarios and Delilah Deles.
“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,” said the NTC.
“Consequentially, absent a valid legislative franchise, the recall of the frequencies assigned to respondent is warranted,” it added.
ABS-CBN on July 10 failed to secure a new franchise after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, voting 70 to 11, adopted the recommendation of its technical working group to deny the network’s application. Two congressmen inhibited while one abstained.
The network stopped its operations on May 5 in compliance with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC’s) cease and desist order due to the expiration of its congressional franchise.
The order directed ABS-CBN to shut down its various TV and radio broadcasting stations nationwide “sent a valid Congressional Franchise as required by law.”
Republic Act No. 7966, which granted the network a 25-year franchise to operate TV and radio broadcasting stations expired on May 4, 2020.
Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, House Legislative Franchises Committee vice chairman, said ABS-CBN’s frequencies are now up for grabs.
“It’s now open for application by other broadcast companies,” he told the Philippine STAR.
“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,” he added.