GMA Network Inc. is blocking the bid of rival ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. to offer digital television service to consumers.
In a filing with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), GMA said ABS-CBN’s application to convert its existing analog frequency channel to digital is really a move to operate a new service and not just a conversion. “Unfortunately, ABS-CBN misleads the affected parties by designating its petition as one for migration and conversion to digital service,” said GMA.
ABS-CBN is currently applying for a new frequency, preferably within the 500 to 506-megahertz range, which is not yet assignable for broadcast use. This frequency bandwidth is presently within the band for trunked radio service.
In its application, ABS-CBN said it intends to provide digital TV-terrestrial (DT-T) service in the said frequency, as maybe available and assignable by the NTC, or preferably Channel 19. The proposed conversion, it added, will initially be a migration to operate analog and digital services concurrently until such time that the NTC mandates termination of all analog TV broadcast transmissions.
GMA opined that ABS-CBN is actually applying for a new frequency, which it can use to operate another station simultaneous with its Studio 23 analog broadcast service. No migration or conversion to digital service will actually take place as ABS-CBN’s real intention is to operate DWAC-TC Channel 23 as its analog service and, at the same time, operate a digital TV station using a different channel until the mandatory analog switch-off date, GMA pointed out.
“The instant petition should be denied on the obvious ground that no migration or conversion to digital service is contemplated herein. ABS-CBN is not applying for a migration to conversion to a digital service but for an entirely new digital broadcast service, in addition to its analog service utilizing Channel 23,” said GMA.
Furthermore, the frequency bandwidth being eyed by ABS-CBN has not yet been reallocated by the NTC for broadcast use.
“What ABS-CBN is in effect doing in this application is to stake a claim on a frequency not presently within the domain of broadcast TV spectrum, and at the same time, preserve its privilege over Channel 23. This should not be countenanced by the NTC,” said GMA.
The broadcast company also has a pending application with the NTC to transform its Channel 27 UHF (ultra-high frequency) TV station to digital broadcast service.
“With the advances in technology, particularly the introduction of digital technology in the broadcasting service, it is imperative and in the interest of public service that GMA must take measures in order to meet the growing public demand for and address the technological challenge of digital TV broadcast service,” said GMA in its application.
The TV network said it is financially capable to adopt a digital terrestrial TV broadcast platform, and to acquire, operate and maintain the necessary equipment for use in the broadcast of quality TV programs. It presented to the NTC a proof showing its financial capacity. GMA’s capital was recently increased to P6.5 billion from P5 billion.
“The Securities and Exchange Commission has approved recently the increase of authorized capital stock from P5 billion divided into 3.5 billion common shares with the par value of P1 each and 7.5 billion preferred shares with the par value of P0.20 each to P6.5 billion divided into 5 billion common shares with the par value of P1 each and 7.5 billion preferred shares with the par value of P0.20 each,” said GMA.