MANILA -- The broadcast frequencies of ABS-CBN Corp. are now up for grabs, following their recall by regulators this week, a former official of the Department of Information and Communications Technology said Friday.
The NTC on Thursday took back under government control ABS-CBN's frequencies due to its lack of a broadcast franchise. A House panel dominated by President Rodrigo Duterte's allies rejected in July the network's license application, even after several agencies testified that ABS-CBN followed laws.
"This is the first time. There is no precedent of such a huge recall of frequencies," former DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio told ANC.
"They (frequencies) will now be available for application from any valid franchise holder... As to how this will be awarded will depend on the NTC," he added.
Typically, the NTC holds a public hearing where it presents the frequency applicants. The agency then accepts oppositors, who could argue that a particular entity is not the best candidate for the frequencies, he told ANC.
This process takes "roughly a year," Rio said.
The former ABS-CBN frequencies could go to several broadcasters in different areas, or “one big entity” could snap them all up, he said.
"ABS-CBN, with the present regulation, has lost all and any hand on those frequencies as of this moment," he said.
The network will have to get a new franchise before it can "join the queue of applying for frequencies," said Rio.
"As to regaining the [original] frequencies, then I think that needs something that we have not yet done before. We cannot foretell what that something will be, but anything is possible," he said.
ABS-CBN’s broadcast franchise expired last May 4. Its free TV and radio channels went off the air on May 5 following a cease and desist order from the NTC.
Duterte has repeatedly said he would shut down the network due to its supposed failure to air his 2016 elections ads. His aides maintain that he is "neutral" towards ABS-CBN.
Following ABS-CBN's broadcast shutdown, thousands of its workers were retrenched and departments were wiped out including its regional operations.
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