CA reverses NTC’s ruling on Mel Velarde’s Newsnet

The Court of Appeals has set aside the National Telecommunication Commission’s order terminating the provisional authority issued to Newsnet to operate cable TV and other multimedia services.

In a 19-page decision dated August 16, the special eleventh division of the Court of Appeals nullified the cease and desist order (CDO) issued by the NTC against Newsnet, an affiliate of businessman Mel Velarde’s 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 (LMDS) 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 said.

The NTC stopped Newsnet’s operations nationwide due to the expiration of the company’s legislative franchise last October 1, 2021.

According to the CA, the NTC’s order unduly limited the 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.”

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.

“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,” the CA said.

“The CA decision benefits the entire cable TV and internet service providers’ (ISPs) industry nationwide as it affirms and bolsters current laws that eliminate the need for a congressional franchise to operate as a cable/pay TV operator and ISP,” Now Group said.