MANILA – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) asked the Court of Appeals to reverse its decision granting the petition filed by the News and Entertainment Network Corporation (Newsnet) compelling it to comply with the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s (ARTA) declaration of completeness and order of automatic approval in favor of the network.

In its motion for reconsideration made public Wednesday, the NTC, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), pointed out to the court that there was no more ARTA order to implement since the ARTA has already reversed itself in an 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 declaration of completeness and order of automatic approval dated Feb. 12, 2020, for Newsnet are "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 Department of Justice's July 9, 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 order, the OP stated, “Accordingly, the Resolution of this Office dated 08 February 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.”

The OSG said the DOJ's order has since become "immutable, and may no longer be disturbed”.

The OSG further emphasized that Newsnet’s legislative franchise, Republic Act 8197 expired on Aug. 9, 2021.

Its failure to renew the franchise renders all its secondary authorities, permits and licenses arising from it 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 makes use of 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 3846, (Radio Control Act).

Section 1 of the law 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 (by that very fact) revoked upon the expiration of its legislative franchise, Newsnet cannot anymore use the frequencies assigned to it, or be allowed the assignment of frequencies. (PNA)