NTC on distributing ABS-CBN frequencies: Unassigned, limited public resource should be used for public good

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 28) — The National Telecommunications Commission defended its move to reallocate unused ABS-CBN frequencies to three firms, almost two years after the broadcast giant was denied a franchise renewal.

"A limited public resource should be used for public good and public convenience. Delays will just delay the giving of convenience to the public," NTC Deputy Commissioner Ed Cabarios told CNN Philippines' The Source on Friday.

Cabarios reiterated that they sought the guidance of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the President-Office of the Executive Secretary before designating the frequencies, because they have been unused for more than a year.

"These frequencies, these TV channels were recalled in the middle of 2020. And more than one year na po na (and it has been more than one year since they were) unassigned, unutilized," Cabarios stressed.

"Frequencies, radio spectrum is a limited public resource, and this limited public resource should be used for the benefit of the public, for public good and public convenience," he added.

Cabarios said that the commission made a "unanimous" decision when it granted authorization to Advanced Media Broadcasting System, Aliw Broadcasting, and Swara Sug Media Corp, also known as Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) to take over the frequencies previously used by ABS-CBN.

AMBS, currently owned by billionaire and former senator Manny Villar, can now temporarily operate analog Channel 2 and digital Channel 16.

Aliw now has the authority to use Channel 23 while SMNI can use Channel 43.

AMBS was first to apply for a digital TV slot as early as 2006, followed by Aliw and SMNI in 2007, Cabarios explained.

He also noted that if ABS-CBN were to secure a fresh franchise, it would likely be the last on the current list of applicants waiting to get authorization, since there are others who filed their applications from 2017 to 2019.

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

ABS-CBN is only airing its shows in its digital platforms and free TV at the A2Z channel owned by congressman Eddie Villanueva’s Zoe Broadcasting Network.

A House panel, dominated by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, denied the network giant its bid for franchise renewal in July 2020.

Duterte has been vocal in the past about shutting down ABS-CBN after accusing the network of refusing to carry his 2016 campaign ads.