NOW Corp.’s Newsnet takes next round vs. NTC in telco war

Published August 1, 2022, 5:45 AM

by Edgard Hilario

So are we finally be seeing a new major telco player?

It should be a most likely scenario after the Court of Appeals (CA) Special Eighth Division on July 20, 2022 ruled in favor of News and Entertainment Network Corp. on its long-running application for operation and frequency before the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC).

NOW Telecom and Newsnet are affiliates of NOW Corporation, which has been vying for the next available slot in the telco market.

The CA Eighth Division has just recently ruled on a Petition for Mandamus by Newsnet, granting and directing the NTC and its commissioner Gamaliel Cordova to “faithfully and immediately comply with the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s February 12, 2020 order which deemed automatically approved petitioner’s application for the the issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience to install, operate, and maintain a Local Multi-Point Distribution System 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.”

In the 33-page decision by the CA’s Eighth Division, the following were duly highlighted:

On Aug. 9, 1995, Newsnet was incorporated and registred with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with primary purpose of engaging in the business of establishing commercial telecommunications and television, cable, and broadcasting stations.

On July 11, 1996, Republic Act No. 8197 was enacted into law giving Newsnet legislative franchise “to construct, establish, install, operate and maintain for commercial purposes and in the public interest cable/community antennae television (CATV) systems.”

In January 1997, respondent NTC granted Newsnet a provisional authority to operate an Interactive Pay TV and Multimedia Services using Local Multi-Point Distribution System in the 25.35 GHz-26.35 GHz frequency range.

On July 9, 2014, Newsnet filed an application before the NTC for the issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience to install, operate, and maintain a LMDS.

On Aug. 26, 2014, NTC directed Newsnet to present evidence and to establish jurisdictional requirements regarding its application.

On March 15, 2016, November 2016 and May 17, 2018, Newsnet submitted testimonial and documentary evidence to establish its financial and technical capabilities to undertake the proposed LMDS expanded service to establish the economic feasibility of its application.

On September 20, 2018, Newsnet submitted its Formal Offer Documentary Evidence which was admitted by the NTC in its October 19, 2018 order.

From there, however, Newsnet, decried the long and extended process taken by the NTC to grant its application and, on December 23, 2019, it filed a formal complaint against NTC commissioner Cordova before the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), alleging the commissioner violated the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

From there, ARTA acted in favor of Newsnet, the decision disputed by NTC and its question as to the authority of ARTA supported by the Department of Justice, and now this recent CA ruling in favore of Newsnet.

Again, the big question.

Are we seeing a new major telco player now, and soon?