NOW Group of the Velarde family secured a favorable decision from the Court of Appeals that will pave the way for the operation of its wireless broadband and interactive cable television services nationwide.
The special eleventh division of the Court of Appeals, in a 19-page decision dated Aug. 16, reversed and set aside the termination of provisional authority and the cease-and-desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission against Newsnet, an affiliate of Now Corp. and Now Telecom.
“The provisional authority of petitioner [Newsnet] to operate and maintain 25.35 to 26.35 GHz spectrum Local MultiPoint Distribution System to deliver interactive pay television and multi-media services in Metro Manila is reinstated and shall continue to be effective unless sooner suspended, cancelled or revoked in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations,” the CA decision said.
The NTC cancelled Newsnet’s PA and issued CDO to its Metro Manila and nationwide operations due to the expiration of the latter’s legislative franchise on Oct. 1, 2021.
The CA said the NTC “committed reversible order in issuing the assailed order of termination of provisional authority of petitioner which is solely grounded on the expiration of the legislative franchise or Republic Act No. 8197 on Oct. 1, 2021.
“Said order unduly limited the period authority of petitioner to operate as a qualified CATV operator in contravention of the provisions of EO No. 205 which allows a maximum period of 30 years,” it 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.
Records show that NTC granted Newsnet PA to operate a local multi-point distribution system in the 25.35Ghz to 26.35GHz band within Metro Manila from 1997 to Oct. 1, 2021, which is the date of expiration of its legislative franchise , or for a total period of 24 years.
“In its order respondent NTC did not cite the absence of financial or technical qualifications of petitioner or the latter’s violation of rules and regulations of the NTC as a valid grounds for termination of provisional to operate,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Red Tape Authority denied with finality Newsnet’s appeal to reverse a June 17, 2022 resolution.
ARTA said it considered all the arguments of the parties following the Secretary of Justice resolution dated July 9, 2021, which became final and executory, after its endorsement to the NTC.
The ARTA resolution settled the issue with finality while any similar motions or manifestations pertaining to the case would no longer be entertained, it said.
Newsnet filed on July 4, 2022 an MR to ARTA’s June 17, 2022 resolution, praying for the reinstatement of the declaration of completeness and order of automatic approval.
The NTC opposed Newsnet’s motion stating that Newsnet’s legislative franchise to operate a local multi-point distribution system already expired, disqualifying Newsnet from any frequency assignment or allocation.