NTC says ABS-CBN may be last on list; frequencies granted on 'first come, first serve' basis

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 28) — It might take a while for broadcast giant ABS-CBN to secure its own frequencies after the government reallocated its former channels to other broadcasting firms.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on Friday, National Telecommunications Commission Deputy Commissioner Ed Cabarios shared his view when asked whether ABS-CBN would likely be last on the list of those applying for the grants, once it secures a franchise.

"Kung sakali yes, kasi ang titingnan is first, yung nakapila ka, then we will check the legal qualifications," he said.

[Translation: In case, yes, because, first, we're looking if you are in line, then we will check the legal qualifications.]

Cabarios said in a previous interview that the assignment of frequencies is awarded on a "first come, first serve basis."

"First is, you consider the dates, kung sino nauna. Then take a look at compliance, kung hindi nagcomply then go to the next until the last," the deputy commissioner noted.

[Translation: First is, you consider the dates, who applied first. Then take a look at compliance, if it didn't comply then go to the next until the last.]

"If it is legally qualified, technically qualified and financially qualified, then a grant authorization is given. Ito yung sinusunod (This is what we follow)," Cabarios added.

He explained that Advanced Media Broadcasting System, which can now temporarily operate analog Channel 2 and digital Channel 16, applied for a digital TV slot as early as 2006.

Billionaire and former senator Manny Villar currently owns the broadcast firm. It received a 25-year franchise to operate TV service last 2019.

READ: Villar firm gets ABS-CBN frequencies — NTC 

NTC also recently gave former ABS-CBN frequencies to Aliw Broadcasting, the operator of radio station DWIZ; and Swara Sug Media Corp, also known as Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).

Aliw now has the authority to use Channel 23 while SMNI can use Channel 43. NTC earlier said Aliw was the second one to apply for digital TV broadcasting on July 2007, followed by SMNI, which filed on October the same year.

READ: Quiboloy network, Aliw Broadcasting bag other ABS-CBN frequencies

Cabarios said he does not have the exact number of applicants that are still on the waiting list, but there are others that also filed for provisional authority from 2017 to 2019.

"If ABS-CBN would be able to get the congressional franchise, it will be a new franchise. They have to apply for authorizations after and nakapila po yan, marami po sila (it must fall in line, and there's a lot of applicants lining up)," he noted.

[Translation: If ABS-CBN would be able to get the congressional franchise, it will be a new franchise. They have to apply for authorizations after and there's a line. There are many in line.]

He also said a network with a provisional authority has the option to "join others, build a single transmitter, share the cost, and go on air" depending on available program channels.

ABS-CBN failed to secure a fresh 25-year franchise in July 2020 after a House panel denied its application. It has since strengthened its presence in digital platforms and aired some shows on free TV at the A2Z channel out of a broadcast deal with religious leader and congressman Eddie Villanueva’s Zoe Broadcasting Network.