A company owned by Philippine billionaire Manuel Villar's family won the channels previously assigned to ABS-CBN Corp., a former media giant that had come under fire by President Rodrigo Duterte in the past.
The National Telecommunications Commission said Advanced Media Broadcasting System, Inc. now has the rights to use Channel 2, which is the analog pair of digital Channel 16. Channel 2 was a primary news source for Filipinos in remote areas.
Duterte had accused ABS-CBN of biased reporting and alleged it had unpaid taxes, which the broadcaster has denied.
The decision to transfer the channels was backed by the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Justice and the office of President Rodrigo Duterte, the NTC said in a statement.
Philippine Daily Inquirer, which reported the development on Tuesday night, said Advanced Media is controlled by Villar.
Villar, a former lawmaker and one-time presidential contender has built an empire in property and retailing. His son, Mark ran the Department of Public Works and Highways for Duterte until recently when he quit to seek a senate seat in May. Cynthia Villar, wife of Manuel, is an incumbent senator.
ABS-CBN was ordered by the government in May 2020 to shut its free TV and radio stations after its franchise expired. Duterte said he won't allow the company to operate such channels even if it gets a new franchise from Congress, forcing ABS-CBN to air some of its shows on another channel run by Zoe Broadcasting Network Inc. as well as focus on building its digital and internet presence.