By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Embattled broadcast giant ABS-CBN may lose control of its current spectrum assignment if it fails to secure a new legislative franchise by the end March, Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles said.
Nograles made the remarks during Friday’s Nanka news forum in Quezon City, when asked if the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) can give away the “channel 2 frequency” of the the Lopez-owned network giant to other existing franchise holders once its current congressional franchise under Republic Act No. 7966 finally lapses on March 30.
“I think in theory pwede(ng) (ibigay sa ibang franchise holders),” said Nograles.
Although it’s the exclusive right of Congress to grant legislative franchise to private media entities like the Kapamilya network, the NTC has the mandate to assign specific spectrum or frequency to every television and radio stations in the country that has an existing valid franchise.
Under Executive Order No. 546 series of 1979, the NTC has the “grant exclusive power to grant permits for the use of radio frequencies for wireless telephone and telegraph systems and radio communication systems including amateur radio stations and radio and television broadcasting systems.”
NTC is also mandated to “sub-allocate series of frequencies of bands allocated by the International Telecommunications Union to the specific services.”
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday assured ABS-CBN management that they have already coordinated with the NTC to allow their continuous operations while their franchise renewal application remains pending before the House legislative franchise panel.
“Meron po tayong ugnayan sa NTC na gagawin na habang naghi-hearing kami o habang pending sa amin, hindi magsasara,” he said.
Rival television network GMA-7 and the Catholic Church’s Radyo Veritas were earlier allowed by NTC to continue operating despite having expired legislative franchises, and have only secured a new one months after the date originally prescribe by their respective previous franchise laws.
But Nograles stressed that “NTC cannot act on any spectrum application without a valid congressional franchise.”
“There are precedents, but not exact precedents. Again pagdating sa congressional franchises and in the realm of the NTC, everything is a ‘case to case’ basis,” he said.