One of the key points of President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) is the creation of a new public broadcasting company which shall adhere to, among other things, modern international standards, and a truly independent broadcasting network.
We have discussed in the past the efforts of the new administration to address the woes of PTV 4 and how Presidential Communications Sec. Martin Andanar intends to model PTV to that of the Australian, British, American, and Canadian public broadcasters.
The present set-up of our public broadcasting goes like this:
- The People’s Television Network (PTNI) which was established in 1986 and formalized in 1992 through Republic Act 7306
- The Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS) which was already existing and since 1933 and operates at present Radyo ng Bayan, Sports Radio, Radyo Magasin, Business Radio, and regional stations
Within 26 days, we have seen progress, albeit a few. Let us enumerate:
- The courtesy resignation of the entire board of directors, including GM Albert Bocobo, a holdover of the past administration. The resignation came in such a bad timing, as he was severely criticized by Bitag Live host Ben Tulfo over some statements which make it appear that Sec. Andanar “doesn’t know how to do his job”. After the said resignation, former TV5 executive Dino Apolonio was named new GM manager. Not much is heard about him, but thanks to research it has been revealed he had some experience in the United States. (It was previously stated that Charie Villa was being considered for the job though it was later retracted.) It was also revealed in the same statement that PTV is planning to install digital transmitters in Baguio, Naga, Iloilo, Cebu, Cotabato, and Davao.
- News programs were rebranded to simply PTV News, with a cleaner and smoother delivery of news. Its morning show was also renamed as Good Morning Pilipinas, as its previous title was a reminder to former president Noynoy Aquino’s inaugural speech (kayo ang boss ko, hence the program Good Morning Boss).
- Its audio and video feed improved, so its streaming.
- Representatives from the BBC are set to visit the facilities of PBS and PTV
Now with the recent SONA, it has been revealed that the new administration is planning to do more than just that.
He called on Congress to pass a law to create the People’s Broadcasting Corporation, merging the two entities into one, as well as the creation of specialty channels for the Lumad and Muslim communities and setting up of regional facilities in the Visayas and Mindanao. To quote the full text:
“To better manage public information, a law should be passed – I’m addressing Congress– to create the People’s Broadcasting Corporation, replacing PTV-4, the government-run TV station, which now aims to replicate international government broadcasting networks. Teams from these international news agencies — I’d like to mention those interested BBC — are set to visit the country soon to train people from government-run channels to observe. Ito ang gusto ko — tutal pera naman ng tao — to observe editorial independence through innovative programs and intelligent treatment and analysis of news reports, as well as developments of national and international significance.
The government’s Bureau of Broadcast Services, better known as the Radyo ng Bayan, shall undergo upgrading to make it financially viable and dependable for accurate and independent, and enlightening news and commentary. Radyo ng Bayan will be integrated with the PBC.
As we are presently setting up a Presidential Communications Satellite Office in Davao City, PBC will also put up broadcast hubs in the Visayas and Mindanao. Davao City will also be the first site of the first Muslim channel, to be called Salaam Television, and the first Lumad channel.”
This will be a daunting task for the government stations to keep up with its mandate to serve and inform the people, which is already being hounded by lack of funding, the nature of Philippine media, and the perception that it they are being used as propaganda tools for the sitting president.
How will they do that? It is up to them, but as observers who are passionate on how Filipino media evolves, these are the options we look forward to:
- Create a constitutional commission to oversee operations and to ensure its mandate is being fulfilled, thus editorial independence is maintained
- Include the PBC in the General Appropriations Act, charge a licence fee through electric bills (which is unfeasible due to an addition to people’s expenses and the Brits’ own opposition to such a license fee, expect GMA’s Felipe Gozon to block any move aimed to overhaul public broadcasting, shut up na lang siya)
- Overhaul of the facilities and equipment, not to mention transmission
We look forward that such a law is passed, despite knowing that the administration has other matters to attend to. But focusing on the development of public broadcast is essential so that it may help the President to convey to the public on how to change this country, and also help us make informed and involved in matters concerning our future.