The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Thursday formally recalled the radio and television frequencies assigned to ABS-CBN, after the broadcasting giant failed to get a renewed legislative franchise.
“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,” the NTC said in its Sept. 9 decision released to the media Thursday.
The order covers all of ABS-CBN’s free television and radio frequencies nationwide, including the famously known Channel 2, AM radio station DZMM and DWRR-FM, popularly known as MOR 101.9.
“Consequentially, absent a valid legislative franchise, the recall of the frequencies assigned to respondent is warranted,” continued the seven-page order signed by NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba and Deputy Commissioners Edgardo Cabarios and Delilah Deles.
The NTC also said all provisional authorities, certificates of public convenience granted to ABS-CBN were also “revoked/cancelled”.
It is not yet clear what the NTC would do with the frequencies once assigned to ABS-CBN.
ABS-CBN’s broadcast franchise expired on May 4. Soon after, the NTC released a cease and desist order against the network, ordering it to stop all its broadcasts due to an absence of a franchise, despite an earlier assurance made by the commission in Congress, that it will allow ABS-CBN to operate while its franchise renewal is being deliberated in Congress.
Critics cite Solicitor General Jose Calida’s April 30 letter to the NTC warning the commission against granting the network a provisional authority advising the regulatory body to instead issue a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN.
Last July 10, 70 pro-Duterte congressmen in the Committee on Legislative Franchises voted not to renew network’s franchise. Pro administration congressmen repeated accusations against ABS-CBN that the network has evaded paying the right taxes, violating securities and labor laws, among others despite positions of government regulators clearing the network of any liability.
Ever since becoming president, Duterte has attacked ABS-CBN for what he alleges as the network’s bias against him during the campaign period and the non-airing of his political ads. Late in 2019, he promised that ABS-CBN would be out of the air and advised the Lopez family who owns ABS-CBN to just sell the network.
Since the network’s shutdown, thousands of ABS-CBN employees, including veteran journalists, have been retrenched and entire departments closed including all of its regional operations, depriving Filipinos in the provinces access the news and information where ABS-CBN is the only channel servicing those areas.
Since the network went off-air, ABS-CBN has been using its cable TV and online platforms in broadcasting its shows. Rommel F. Lopez