Newsnet scores a win in its bid to be recognized as a news network and operate pay television service.
This after the Court of Appeals (CA) recent decision to deny the appeal of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to recall the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s (ARTA) 2020 order to the regulator to issue a certificate of public convenience (CPC) to News and Entertainment Network Corporation (Newsnet).
In a 12-page resolution promulgated on March 28, 2023, the CA Former Special Eighth Division denied the motion for reconsideration of NTC and its July 2022 decision “stands.”
In July 20, 2022, the CA Special Eighth Division granted the Petition for Mandamus filed by Newsnet against the NTC. The Petition for Mandamus was sought by Newsnet to compel the NTC to comply with the order of the ARTA dated February 12, 2020 that automatically approved its application for the issuance of a CPC to install, operate, and maintain a Local Multi-Point Distribution System (LMDS) to deliver interactive Pay Television and multimedia services in South Luzon, North Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao in the 25.35 GHz 26.35 GHz frequency range with authority to charge rates therefor.
The NTC earlier canceled Newsnet’s PA to operate pay TV and LMDS nationwide s due to the expiration of the latter’s legislative franchise last October 1, 2021
The CA, however, said in its resolution that a Congressional or Legislative franchise is “not a pre-requisite or condition” to a provisional certificate of authority to operate pay television service.
“There being no dispute that [Newsnet] is a CATV entity and not a PTE, a congressional or legislative franchise is not a pre-requisite or condition to a provisional or certificate of authority to operate. The applicable law is Executive Order No. 205 issued by President Corazon C. Aquino on June 30, 1987,” the appellate court said.
Based on the provisions of EO No. 205 , the maximum period of a Certificate of Authority that can be given to the CATV operator is 30 years.
“Thus, the NTC committed reversible order in issuing the assailed order of termination of the PA of Newsnet which is solely grounded on the expiration of the legislative franchise or Republic Act o. 8197 on October 1, 2021,” the CA said.
“It its order, the NTC did not cite the absence of financial or technical qualifications of Newsnet’s or the latter’s violation of rules and regulations of the NTC as valid grounds for termination of provisional authority to operate,” it added
The CA also said that Newset is considered qualified and entitled to an extension or renewal of its provisional authority to operate LMDS system in Metro Manila.
“Based on the foregoing consideration, respondents’ contention that a legislative franchise is a requirement to operate CATV is therefore bereft of merit,” it added.
The CA also said that ARTA has jurisdiction over the NTC, citing the Ease of Doing Business Act, of which ARTA’s jurisdiction applies to all government offices and agencies that provide services covering business and nonbusiness related transactions which includes the NTC.
The CA order stressed that the February 12, 2020 order of the ARTA, which deemed automatically approved Newsnet’s application is “already final and executory” after the NTC filed its compliance to the directive instead of filing an appeal to the Office of the President.
“With the finality of the February 12, 2020 Order of the ARTA, this Court is perplexed as how said agency could reverse or abandon the same via its June 17, 2022 Resolution using only the DOJ Resolution when it had previously and vigorously opposed the said findings of the DOJ,” the CA said.
“The oft-repeated rule is that a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any respect. While there are recognized exceptions, the present case does not warrant a departure from the general rule,” it.added.
SOURCE: MANILA BULLETIN