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CA told to reconsider ruling in Newsnet franchise

August 17, 2022 Hector Lawas 239 views

THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to reconsider its ruling granting the petition of News and Entertainment Network Corporation (Newsnet) that compelled the commission to comply with the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s (ARTA) February 12, 2020 “Declaration of Completeness and Order of Automatic Approval” of the franchise in favor of the network.

Represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), the NTC pointed out that there was no more ARTA order to implement because it has already reversed itself in another order dated June 17, 2022.

In the said order, the ARTA stated that “following the directives laid down in Secretary of Justice Resolution in OSJ Case No. 01-2020 dated July 9, 2021 which has become final and executory, the said Declaration of Completeness and Order of Automatic Approval dated February 12, 2020 is hereby set aside.”

“Since ARTA’s 12 February 2020 Order is now non-existent, (Newsnet) cause of action is rendered moot,” the OSG stressed.

ARTA’s reversal was anchored upon the Department of Justice (DOJ) resolution in OSJ Case No. 01-2020, which resolved that ARTA does not have the authority to issue the Declaration of Completeness and cannot compel NTC to issue a Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) which included the use of frequencies.

The DOJ’s July 8, 2021 resolution has since become final and executory as declared by the Office of the President (OP) in an order issuing an entry of judgment.

In the said order, the OP stated that “Accordingly, the Resolution of this Office dated February 8, 2022 is hereby declared FINAL and EXECUTORY. Where appropriate, let the records of this case be remanded to the Department of Justice for its proper disposition.”

This DOJ Order has since become ‘immutable, and may no longer be disturbed,’” the OSG explained.

The OSG further emphasized that Newsnet’s legislative franchise, R.A No. 8197, expired on August 9, 2021. Its failure to renew the franchise renders all its secondary authorities, permits, and licenses revoked.

The expiration of Newsnet’s legislative franchise legally prevents the NTC from approving Newsnet’s application for a CPC and the use of frequencies.

Newsnet’s CATV system uses the Local Multi-Point Distribution System (LMDS), a wireless service that uses the wireless frequency spectrum to relay its signal to its subscribers.

A legislative franchise is a requirement before NTC could grant authority for Newsnet to be able to use radio frequencies under Act No. 3846 (Radio Control Act), Section 1 of which states that “No person, firm, company, association or corporation shall construct, install, establish, or operate a radio station within the Philippine Islands without having first obtained a franchise therefor from the Philippine Legislature.”

Since Newsnet’s 1997 Provisional Authority (PA) and the 2014 Application for PA were ipso facto (as an inevitable result) revoked upon the expiration of its legislative franchise, Newsnet cannot anymore use the frequencies assigned to it or be allowed the assignment of frequencies.