RTC denies injunction sought by NOW Cable vs. NTC

The plea of now Cable, Inc. for a preliminary injunction stopping the implementation of a cease-and-desist order (CDO) issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in 2021 was denied by the Quezon City regional trial court (RTC).

Judge Kathleen Rosario D. Dela Cruz-Espinosa, in a resolution, ruled that “at this stage of the controversy, therefore, since plaintiff’s (NOW Cable) right in esse (in actual existence) is not clear and unmistakable, the court could not grant the preliminary injunction prayed for.”

The lower court then reiterated its earlier order for the pre-trial conference on the case on 11 Oct. at 8:30 a.m.

The NTC issued a CDO when NOW Cable’s congressional franchise expired.

The cable company’s congressional franchise for its Free TV operations had been approved on the third reading by the House of Representatives and is pending renewal by Congress.

With the expired franchise, NTC, on 18 May 2022, recalled NOW Cable’s assigned frequencies 26.35GHz-27.35GHz, including all its channels and provisional authorities.

The NTC opposed NOW Cable’s plea for preliminary injunction as it pointed out that the court has no authority to grant the relief under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction since the grant of a certificate of authority to operate a radio and television broadcasting system, including CATV, is a mandate of NTC’s quasi-judicial functions.

In its resolution denying its plea for a preliminary injunction, the RTC ruled that NOW Cable — formerly GHT Network, Inc. — had failed to prove its clear and unmistakable right to be protected by a writ of a preliminary injunction.

It also noted that NOW Cable never questioned the CDO’s existence, due execution, and authenticity.

The court pointed out that NOW Cable’s legislative franchise under Republic Act (RA) No. 8213 requires the need for NTC’s prior approval for the construction and operation of its station and facilities, and the grantee “shall not use any frequency in the radio/television spectrum without having been authorized by the Commission.”

Also, the court noted that NOW Cable’s legislative franchise had a term of 25 years which had expired on 21 Sept. 2021.

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