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Manny Villar—the country’s richest person—to take over ABS-CBN frequencies

By Brooke Villanueva Published Jan 26, 2022 11:10 am

Business tycoon Manny Villar is set to take over ABS-CBN’s television broadcast frequencies.

Awarded with a 25-year franchise extension in 2019, his firm Advanced Media Broadcasting System Inc. (AMBS) has been given the green light “to install, operate, and maintain a Digital Television Broadcasting System in Metro Manila/Mega Manila using Channel 16,” according to the National Telecommunications Commission. 

The NTC additionally assigned a simulcast channel—Channel 2—for a temporary period, clarifying that it’s “for simulcast purposes only, and only until the analog shut-off schedule in 2023.” 

The commission said that the AMBS was the first to apply for such authority in October 5, 2006. “AMBS has been waiting for an available digital TV frequency since 2006 after undergoing a quasi-judicial process, which includes notice to all interested/affected parties and hearing.” 

After careful review of its legal, technical, and financial qualification as well as policy guidance from the Department of Information and Communications Technology, legal opinion from the Department of Justice, and the concurrence of the OP-OES (Office of the President or the Office of the Executive Secretary), the move was made “to ensure service to both analog and digital TV signal users as the country transitions to full digital TV.”

This comes nearly two years after ABS-CBN’s failed bid for a new franchise, as voted 70-11 by the House Committee on Legislative Franchises. The frequencies once belonged to the Lopezes.

Villar—a real estate mogul—is the country’s richest person with a net worth of $7.2 billion, according to Forbes. He was elected senator from 2001 to 2013 and was also the Senate President from 2006 to 2008.