Philippine broadcast network ‘not for sale’

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MANILA (The Philippine Star) — Selling ABS-CBN Corp. is not an option, the broadcast network made clear as the fight for the media giant shifts to keeping its frequencies that allow it to air free TV and radio channels.

“ABS-CBN is not for sale,” said Kane Errol Choa, the network’s corporate communications director, said in a text message Monday morning. sought Choa’s comment the morning after Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy issued a statement, saying his holding firm, Udenna Corp., has “no intention to acquire ABS-CBN."

“Being in the business of broadcasting is not part of our corporate direction,” Uy said in a statement issued Sunday evening

Uy’s statement appeared to be prodded by rumors he is out to go after ABS-CBN after regulators shut down the network’s free TV and radio media last week when it failed to renew its franchise, bills on which had been sitting in Congress since 2014.

Talks of Uy stepping in as a white knight for ABS-CBN were also fanned by his connection to President Rodrigo Duterte, and his fresh media venture just last December. He was a campaign donor to Duterte’s presidential campaign in 2016 and had since massively expanded his business empire when Duterte took power.

“I have high respect on the things ABS-CBN had done and continue to do… We are hoping that their issues be resolved soonest,” Uy said.

With no buyers and sellers however, a direct takeover of ABS-CBN seems to be out of the question. But new players may still enter the battleground, especially if the National Telecommunications Commission or NTC decide later on ABS-CBN already lost its rights to hold its frequencies without a franchise.

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said last Wednesday the agency would make that determination after ABS-CBN is given a chance to justify why the network should keep its frequencies, pending franchise renewal.

“If they cannot justify their holding of frequencies, we can recall those frequencies,” Cabarios said at the time.

Frequencies are what allow TV and radio networks as well as telcos to operate and provide service. Once frequencies are recalled, NTC has the option to bid them out to a new player following state guidelines.

ABS-CBN has 10 days, expiring this week, to submit its justifications before NTC. Meanwhile, the network is also awaiting a decision on its pleading for a temporary restraining order against NTC before the Supreme Court. The high court is expected to tackle the petition on Tuesday.

“But this [NTC’s decision to recall frequencies] can still be challenged before the Court of Appeals,” Cabarios said.