DOJ says no prior knowledge on grant of ABS-CBN frequencies to AMBS

Published January 27, 2022, 2:21 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) today, Jan. 27, said it has no prior knowledge on the grant by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) of a provisional license to the Advanced Media Broadcasting System, Inc. (AMBS) on the use of the frequencies previously assigned to ABS-CBN network.

DOJ Chief State Counsel George O. Ortha II said that while NTC sought a legal opinion from the department, “there was no particular person or entity mentioned in the request.”

Ortha reacted to reports that the NTC sought a DOJ legal opinion before granting the provisional license to AMBS, a firm controlled by billionaire and former Senator Manuel Villar Jr.

He said the NTC sought the legal opinion from the DOJ in November 2021. He said he, himself, prepared the opinion.

“Essentially the request of NTC revolves on two issues. One is whether it can issue certificate of public convenience and necessity or provisional authority. The second one is the assignment of such frequencies,” he said.

He said the opinion was sought by NTC to determine if the issuance of a provisional license will not violate its 2014 memorandum circular.

“They have a memorandum circular issued sometime in 2014 that [states] within Mega Manila they won’t be issuing anymore authority for those who apply for the digital terrestrial TV. So, they wanted to clarify if, despite that circular, they can still allocate available frequencies,” Ortha said.

“Don’t know whose entity, franchise that expired. We do not know also to whom these available frequencies will be assigned to,” he added.

The NTC earlier announced that it granted the provisional authority to AMBS to “install, operate and maintain a Digital Television (TV) Broadcasting System in Metro Manila/Mega Manila using Channel 16.”

“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 said.

ABS-CBN stopped using the frequencies after failing to renew its legislative franchise in 2020.