BUSINESS NEWS | enterprise

Manny Villar's Advanced Media Broadcasting System takes over Channel 2 and Channel 16

By AJ Chua
Published January 26, 2022

Advanced Media Broadcasting System (AMBS), a company linked to former senator Manny Villar, is taking over the broadcast frequencies that have been idle since ABS-CBN Corp.'s franchise expired in May 2020.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) grants AMBS a provisional license to temporarily install, operate, and maintain a digital television broadcasting system in Metro Manila and Mega Manila using Channel 16, the digital TV frequency previously assigned to ABS-CBN.

The country's telecoms regulator also issued AMBS a temporary "test broadcast" permit over the analog Channel 2, effective January 6 until the analog shut-off scheduled in 2023.

According to the commission, AMBS was the first applicant for an authority to install, operate, and maintain a digital TV in Metro Manila. Its application was filed on October 5, 2006, and it has since been waiting for an available digital TV frequency.

The NTC said the decision to transfer the channels was supported by policy guidance issued by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Justice's (DOJ) legal opinion, and the concurrence of the Office of the Executive Secretary.

ABS-CBN was ordered to shut down its free TV and radio operations after its franchise expired in May 2020. Its application to renew its broadcast franchise was rejected by a congressional committee in July 2020. This prompted the network to cut jobs, purchase airtime from other networks, and resort to airing their shows on various platforms online.

Meanwhile, with interests in real estate, malls, hospitality, telecom, and media, Villar is listed as the richest individual in the Philippines by Forbes Magazine. Villar's wife, Cynthia, currently holds a seat in the Senate.

His son, Mark, was among the first Cabinet members named by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte after his victory. The younger Villar ran the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) until recently when he resigned to run for senator in the 2022 elections. Mark's wife is Emmeline Aglipay-Villar was appointed as DOJ Undersecretary in 2018.