'Technically impossible' for gov't to use ABS-CBN's frequency: Gatchalian

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2020 07:56 PM

'Technically impossible' for gov't to use ABS-CBN's frequency: Gatchalian 1
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian joins a technical working group meeting in the Senate on July 7, 2020. Henzberg Austria, Senate PRIB

MANILA - Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday said it would be "technically impossible" for the government to use ABS-CBN's frequencies even after the media network failed to secure a new franchise from Congress.

"It will be technically impossible to use the frequency... [because] the frequency is very specific to the equipment," Gatchailan said in an online press conference when asked for comment about the reported plot of some lawmakers to take over ABS-CBN's assets.

"Hindi mo magagamit 'yung frequency kung wala kang equipment," he said, noting that other broadcast towers may not be compatible with the frequencies assigned to ABS-CBN.

(You cannot use the frequency if you don't have the equipment.)

"Legally, it is not possible [to use ABS-CBN's equipment] because the possession of the property and other assets is with ABS-CBN Corporation," he added.

Last week, at least 3 of the 70 congressmen who voted against the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise said in an online meeting that a group led by former ABS-CBN cameraman Journalie Payonan may be allowed to control the network's equipment should the government seize the assets.

"No one can use that without the permission of ABS-CBN," Gatchalian said.

"They can force the owners, but it has to be legal. It has to be within legal remedies," he stressed.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier criticized the lawmakers' reported plan, saying the network's properties are "constitutionally protected."

Talks about the possible takeover surfaced after another congressman urged the government to use ABS-CBN's frequencies for its distance learning program.

Before the new franchise denial last July 10, ABS-CBN was forced off the air on May 5 by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) over its expired broadcast license.

The NTC had earlier committed to lawmakers it would allow ABS-CBN to operate while awaiting the action of Congress on the network's fresh franchise application.

The regulatory body subsequently issued late last month two alias cease and desist orders against ABS-CBN"s digital broadcast in Metro Manila and its sister company Sky Cable's direct broadcast satellite service nationwide.

Officials of relevant government agencies cleared ABS-CBN of any irregularities and delinquencies.

Aside from affecting the livelihood of the company's more than 11,000 workers amid a bruised economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the shutdown of ABS-CBN's broadcast operations is also seen by various sectors as curtailment of the people's right to information, as well as of press freedom.

news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.