[Requested by Stephen Mark Davether Perez]
LAST SEPTEMBER 10, the National Telecommunications Commission recalled all frequencies on radio and television owned by ABS-CBN after Congress rejected their franchise renewal exactly two months before.
The eight-page order revoked all television and both radio frequencies owned by the once media giant.
Eliseo Rio Jr., the former Department of Information Communications and Technology (DICT) undersecretary, remarked that this is the first time the regulatory agency has ever done so; hence, no precedent.
This consequence from the ongoing saga of the demise in Mother Ignacia has incited radio enthusiasts and speculators to bet on who will walk off with the precious prize. As of this publication, six to seven entities are applying who will be the new holders of either a part of the frequencies or the whole thing but they are not publicly disclosed.
Rio said that the process of application up to the awarding will take up roughly a year and its procedures will be determined by the said authority.
While it is expensive to apply, own and operate TV frequencies, radio, therefore, is an easy target. Nevertheless, the prospective candidates can be the government itself through the Philippine Broadcasting Service for their expansion (or the Department of Education for the permanent home for DepEd Radio), another big private entity (particularly by a rich, close friend of the incumbent President), influential religious groups that lacked its FM counterparts (e.g. the Sonshine Radio of Quiboloy) or the private networks who just want to be promoted to the mainstream band.
The very last option will be the focus of this post, even though this choice will be unlikely to make it due to the prevailing weights of politicking with the loopholes not yet sealed.
Anyway, what will be the opportunities and the outcomes of each prospective private entities when they acquire the highly-coveted intangible asset? For the sake of simplicity, we will use Metro Manila’s 101.9 MHz and 630 kHz.
Meet the Speculative Applicants
Bombo Radyo Philippines
This radio network, owned by Dr. Rogelio M. Florete (who also owns Queenbank and his namesake pawnshop in Iloilo), is unsurprisingly well-known for banging of the bass drum during their newscasts.
Although there is 102.7 Star FM (DWSM-FM, the adjacent neighbor of the now-vacant frequency), there is no AM counterpart to complement despite having the national NewsCenter in Makati. Therefore, taking 630 kHz will satisfy and complete the set.
Call sign change probability: 50% (Obvious clue: Just change the suffix -FM to -AM.)
Brigada Mass Media Corporation
Brigada Mass Media Corporation is founded and governed by Elmer Catulpos in 2005 and is based in General Santos City. The revenue generation model is distinct from other commercial stations; their revenue comes from the sales of their Healthline products than relying on third-party advertisements.
Their Metro Manila station (DWEY-FM) is currently on 104.7 MHz — sitting between 104.3 Capital FM2 and Q 105.1 (the former Crossover). While their National Broadcast Center is indeed in the metropolis, the current transmitter is situated down south in Batangas.
Before this deliberate fallout, speculators wished that this station would be given to DWLA-FM 105.9 as a result of their inability to click any fanbase that ended up with four (or five) rebrandings-cum-reformats within the last decade. In 2018, the franchise of its legal owner, Bright Star Broadcasting Network, was renewed.
If they’re lucky this time to grab 101.9 MHz, then the news FM monopoly that Radyo5 92.3 enjoys for nearly a decade now will come to an end. (Kabahan ka na, Manong Ted and DJ Chacha!)
Call sign change probability: 100% (Do we need to know the call sign?)
Created by Viva Entertainment in 2014 as Oomph! Radio, this radio network serves pure OPM. As of this publication, they have radio stations in Cebu City, Davao City and Zamboanga City.
Having their own Manila counterpart would mean breaking away from 95.5 Pinas FM (DWDM-FM), the de facto Metro equivalent but de jure owned by Eagle Broadcasting Corporation (the media entity owned and under the influence of Iglesia ni Cristo).
Kapamilya artists who are also Viva talents might be heard again but then, some listeners of this prospective radio network are concerned about the priority just like the frequency’s previous occupant.
Call sign change probability: 40% (If Boss Vic sees nothing wrong to preserve the call sign of the last owner, then why bother?)
Founded in 2015, this Palawan-based media entity (headed by Elgin Damasco) will be another competitor of Brigada in vying for the second news FM station in the nation’s prime metropolis. One concern is the use of the frequency in defending one local politician while vilifying another (similar to our fellow media blogger from his hometown of Iligan City); but because this market area is essentially nature of centralization, it may not happen.
Call sign change probability: 50% (Let’s wait and hear from him.)
Did I miss anything out? Do you want to share your insights on who will take the revoked radio frequencies in your media market? Leave a comment below.
May the odds be ever in your favor.
Photos courtesy of PhilStar.com / Wikimedia Commons / Facebook pages of Brigada News FM National, Halo Halo Radio and Radyo Bandera Philippines