The People’s Broadcasting Corporation under the Duterte administration

(Excerpt from the State of the Nation Address. Credits: Presidential Communications)

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.


The lack of regional presence among our national broadcasters

Our major television broadcasters are known for their wide reach influence, that their programs are seen throughout the country via relay stations or satellite transmissions, their programs gets the large chunk of audience shares and advertising revenue, but there is one noticeable problem, that is the lack of presence in the regions as mostly all programs are being produced by the main stations in Metro Manila, though some are shot in other locations across the country (or in some cases, abroad).

This has posed a particular problem in the scheduling of some programs, which has to be preempted or aired on a one-day delay basis.

In the United States, network affiliates have the option of scheduling some programs outside the prescribed time slots, thus giving them room for their own scheduling, such as newscasts, or syndicated programming (i.e. those produced by third-party entities or production outfits owned by the network). But as in our case where most of them are owned-and-operated by the networks, this poses significant problems.

There is also significant opposition as some would argue that there will be a lack of a “unified” scheduling as slots are being preempted for regional programming, and to be honest, I think this is an invalid argument. Being a diverse country means that television programming has to reflect that reality.

Add to that is the facilities are not at par with the national station, which hampers news-gathering capabilities and not being able to catch up with modern standards.

The solution for that is to seriously invest in their regional stations (but given GMA 7 has since limited its regional stations to Cebu, Davao, and Dagupan to save costs this will be going to be a problem, at least for now). That means, better facilities, like better news gathering equipment, better studios, new satellite uplink systems, more OB vans or livepacks, high-definition cameras, so on, so forth.

The networks must also give room for regional opt-outs, and with that including the National Capital Region. To cite an example, Spanish public broadcaster Television Espanola reserves the 2pm slot to regional newscasts (including Madrid), and through livestreaming this is being replaced by the final half-hour of its breakfast news program Los desayunos de TVE (TVE Breakfast). If we do it here (and with ABS-CBN having their own regional TV Patrol versions since they started to invest in regional content since the 1990s, producing one for Mega Manila), that will free up the national newscasts’ airtime for news of genuine national importance, and thus will expose the audiences in Metro Manila to the diversity of this country and events happening outside the capital, and the regional audiences having to complain why contents of newscasts are full of crime stories mostly centered in the NCR.

In the morning hours, the problem centers on the national breakfast shows (ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda and GMA’s Unang Hirit) being interrupted at 6:15 am to give way to regional breakfast programming. The solution I propose is limiting the running times to 2 hours (5:00-7:00), and schedule the regional breakfast show at 7am, as the dynamic of the regions is different from that of Manila.

There is also the need for a clean feed for the networks and devoting space for regional programs, so no one will ever have to cut abruptly to give way to regional programming (or missing out some programs), and even the opportunity to catch programs first before Manila does, also allowing them to charge advertising rates per region (thus increasing revenue).

Also setting up regional hubs will help, with choices of Baguio for Luzon, Cebu for the Visayas, or Davao for Mindanao.

These moves are radical and mostly costly, but in the long term we will see the pay off, and this will help the television industry in the Philippines grow and mature.

Having a unified broadcast schedule is not wrong, but the need to create a diversified scheduling dynamic will strengthen that idea as it will reflect on the reality that we are a nation of many cultures and languages and the need to build on that identity. It will not only help marketing strategy but will also help people recognize that your network truly cares for you, no matter where you are.




Nice Attacks: My Take (in 150 words)

(Photo credit: BBC) 

I know it’s a bit late to talk about this but let me share you my thoughts.
And before we start, condolences with the families who died in the attack, and solidarity with the French.

It seems to be while everybody was celebrating Bastille Day (the celebration of the Storming of the Bastille, with fireworks displays), a man driving a truck deliberately drove through the Promenade des Anglais, killing 84 people and injuring over 300.

The perpetrator, Mohamed Lahouaeij Bouhlel, a Tunisian, was killed by police in a shootout, and was clueless as to who was responsible.

Until now, when the Islamic State claimed responsibility. This has been the third in a row, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015, and the Bataclan shootings in November 2015.

I don’t know what to say, but it sure is raising a lot of concerns.

Just be vigilant, stay safe, and never be overcome by hate.

Coup in Turkey: My Take (in 150 words)

(Photo credit: CNN)

Judging from what we see right now, it seems that the attempt to overthrow Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has failed.

In an observation of the developments, it appears that the coup was poorly planned, as evidenced by the short takeovers of state broadcaster TRT and the Turkish affiliate of CNN.

They also had a hard time dealing with the mass of people who heeded the call of the president to take to the streets in defiance of the orders of the so-called “Peace Council” to obey the curfew they have imposed.

To add to that, the opposition was not keen on supporting the said coup.

Erdogan may have succeeded in foiling the coup, but this will severely test him if he can further consolidate his power, amid concerns that he is becoming increasingly autocratic, and alienating most of the country’s erstwhile allies.

Let’s wait how things will unfold next.

#CHexit: Ano na ngayon ang gagawin natin?

Kahapon, July 12, ay nailabas na ng Permanent Court of Arbitration ang ruling nito na kung saan ay pinanigan nito ang Pilipinas, na siyang malinaw na indikasyon na walang legal na basehan ang 9-dash line ng China. Pero matapos mailabas ang ruling na ito ay iginiit ng China na hindi nila susundin ang desisyong ito ng korte at nagbabala sa mga maaari pang mangyari. Binalaan naman ng Amerika at Japan ang lahat na magpakita ng pagkahinahon para di pa lumala ang tensyong bumabalot.

Ngayon, ano na ang pwede nating gawin pagkatapos nito?

Matatandaan ninyo na isa sa mga foreign policy agendas ni Presidente Duterte ang normalisasyon sa ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa China, at ang pagtulong nito sa mga infrastructure projects gaya na lamang ng railways, at ang maaaring hatian sa natural resources (kung saan napuna dito si DFA Sec. Perfecto Yasay).

Sa ngayon ay pinag-aaralan ng pamahalaan ang mga magiging hakbang nito, subalit kailangan pa rin nating mag-ingat.

Kung sa perspektiba ng China natin pagbabasehan (yan ay ang bilateral talks), ay magkakaroon tayo ng malaking advantage. Maaari rin nating pag-ibayuhin ang ating kapasidad pang-militar (imumungkahi kong bumili mula sa Russia, dahil sa kalidad at magiging epektibo itong pang-deter sa China dahil magdadalawang-isip na ito sa mga susunod nilang hakbang dahil nakikipag-ugnayan tayo sa kanilang major partner, gaya na lang ng ginawa ng Vietnam na bumibili ng armas sa Russia at kamakailan lang ay pinagbuti rin nito ang relasyon sa Amerika).`

Hindi lang Pilipinas ang makikinabang dito, pati na rin ang mga iba pang claimants gaya ng Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, at pati na rin ang Indonesia na nahihila na rin.

Pero dahil nga sa matigas ang ulo ng China, ay talagang doble ingat nga kailangan natin, lalo na nga’t isa itong major trading partner ng Pilipinas at ng mga claimant. Ang tanging paraang maiisip natin ay kung, magkaroon ng balasahan sa Partido Komunista kung saang mga mahihinahon at bukas na pag-iisip ang mananaig.

At sa Pilipinas, kailangan na talaga nating pagbutihin ang ating defense capabilites dahil sa hindi tayo tiyak sa kung ano ang mangyayari.