The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said it has granted the frequencies previously assigned to ABS-CBN Corp. to the Villar-linked Advanced Media Broadcasting System (AMBS).

The NTC issued an order on Jan. 5 granting AMBS a provisional authority to install, operate and maintain a digital television (TV) broadcasting system in Mega Manila using Channel 16, which used to be ABS-CBN’s digital channel.

At the same time, the regulator “temporarily” assigned Channel 2, previously the analog channel of ABS-CBN, to AMBS for “simulcast purposes,” the commission said in a statement released to reporters late Tuesday.

“The temporary assignment was granted to ensure service to both analog and digital TV signal users as the country transitions to full digital TV,” it added.

The analog shut-off is scheduled to take place in 2023.

On why AMBS was granted the provisional authority, the NTC said in its order that the company “was the first applicant for an authority to install, operate and maintain a digital TV in Metro Manila as filed on Oct. 5, 2006.”

This means that the company has been waiting for 16 ​years for an available TV frequency.

ABS-CBN lost its broadcast franchise in 2020 after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises denied its application.

The NTC said it has a mandate to “assign vacated and available frequencies to qualified entities.”

It also said that the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the President did not object to the decision when sought for guidance and opinion.

AMBS’ legislative franchise, Republic Act No. 11253, was extended for another 25 years in 2019.

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises approved on Sept. 14, 2021 the sale, transfer or assignment of the controlling interest in AMBS to Planet Cable, Inc.

The Villar-led Prime Asset Ventures, Inc.’s telecommunications subsidiary Streamtech Systems Technologies, Inc. offers internet service to homes and businesses through Planet Cable.  — Arjay L. Balinbin