For PTV 4, Change is Coming

Can the Duterte administration make PTV an everlasting impact in the Philippine television industry through a lasting, major overhaul?

Can the Duterte administration make PTV an everlasting impact in the Philippine television industry through a lasting, major overhaul?

This post is dedicated to Jerick Ilagan (ramones1986).

CHANGE IS COMING. Those three words is a slogan of Rodrigo Duterte during his campaign. Now that he is our President of this country for 11 days, this slogan is currently putting in to practice on its six-year plan nationwide.

In the Philippine television industry, the Big 3 will not affect the operation under the new Presidential administration when it comes to entertainment, religious and sports programming. The Big 3’s news departments are trying to be fine-tuned on covering the remaining 89 days (to complete his first 100 days) and the rest of his term (i.e. until June 30, 2022) that may impair their respective definition, scope and limitation of objectivity in journalism. Nevertheless, there is only one TV network that will affect the most among the VHF occupants: People’s Television Network (PTV 4).

Why is PTV 4 in the spotlight of this article? How extensive is his change in Visayas Avenue? The short answer we can assess is very extensive and the Turf will tackle this into deep detail.

#RealTalk: The true background check of PTV

Before the campaign and transition period, most future President’s netizen-supporters were adamantly unfamiliar or ignorant with PTV 4’s existence as their mindsets were part of the never-ending combat of the Philippine Network War between ABS-CBN and GMA. During their campaign, their reactionary comments spewed out over social media but after winning the election, the die-hard keyboard warriors of their group finally migrated to PTV after their bet was uncomfortable with the reactions from private networks’ news on his no-filter statements that they were taken “out of context.”

Unknown to them, PTV already existed as a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) since 1974 — way more before they were born. During their inception under Martial Law of then President Ferdinand Marcos, the channel was initially supervised and controlled by the National Media Production Center (NMPC) as Government Television (GTV) and later, Maharlika Broadcasting System (MBS). During the People Power Revolution, the channel was seized by rebels who defected from Marcos. The first Aquino president (Corazon) renamed Channel 4’s identity to its present name, People’s Television Network. — despite a nine-year stint as National Broadcasting Network (NBN) under the Arroyo presidency.

The NMPC was replaced with the Presidential Broadcasting Staff – Radio Television Malacanang (PBS-RTVM) in 1987. They are responsible to cover the activities and press conferences and they are responsible for producing their respective administration’s shows:

  • Corazon Aquino (1986-1992): Pangungusap ng Pangulo
  • Fidel Ramos (1992-1998): FVR Up Close
  • Joseph Estrada (1998-2001): Jeep ni Erap (ended in 2000 due to his impeachment trial)
  • Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2001-2010): The Working President (hosted by Jolina Magdangal)
  • Benigno S. Aquino III (2010-2016): Pulsong Pinoy & Report Kay Boss

In 1992, she signed Republic Act 7306, giving the foundation and the means of running PTV as a fully-fledged GOCC.

    In the early post-EDSA era, PTV was still well managed — aside from original programming as intended — with few foreign programs and carrying significant sporting events such as: UAAP (until 2000, ceded to ABS-CBN), the Southeast Asian Games (until 2009, ceded to TV5) and the Olympics (until 2004, except Barcelona in 1992 by ABS-CBN, ceded to TV5).

    Today, the network’s programming mix composes of block time programs (both religious and informative), home shopping and government-produced documentary and its shorts. PTV operates from 5:00 a.m. to midnight (19 hours) every day almost without any empathy.

    That being said, as mentioned in the Turf’s Zeitgeist 2015 outlook, continuity in PTV is not an option. They remain mostly as the mouthpiece of the executive branch and the eye of the President for 42 years, instead of the two independent but co-equal branches (legislative in Congress and judiciary in the Supreme Court in Padre Faura). They are never impartial and multifaceted when they cover the news (i.e. not looking on the other side of the story) and are always changing when it comes to programming and management, especially during the change of administration (including the prone of unexpected interruptions). For short, the decisions from the Board of Directors to be projected on the small screens is coterminous to who’s sitting in Malacanang.

    It’s similar to state broadcasters of Communist states such as CCTV of China or KCTV of North Korea and unlike most public/state broadcasters of most democracies around the world, it lacks programming diversity and lacks the management’s will to market the people.

    Here’s a best example: When the scheduled program is minutes away after the live coverage, PTV airs fillers of ASEAN but did they even dedicate a part of their news on ASEAN or its member states? The answer is NO; instead, it’s given to the sectarian, UHF network, NET 25.

    Admit it, we only watch PTV because of the nightly PCSO Lotto Draw (if you answer two, the second is probably PTV Sports).

    Andanar’s trinitarian synergy

    In running an organization like PTV, we have to consider three essential aspects: (1) the finances, (2) the staff and (3) the operation. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Chief Martin Andanar already made such master plan before Duterte assumes office. His earlier experience as a broadcaster would benefit the effectiveness of service of the government TV station and soon enough, a genuine public and state broadcaster.

    Financial shakeup

    You cannot form an organization if you don’t have enough funds to cover. Presently, the financial basis was based from the 1992 Charter earlier. Aside from the explicit mention of the share capital of PHP 1 billion, what hindered the growth and dwarfed the recognition of the network among the commercial giants is the effectual provision of revenue generation:

    SEC. 19. Revenue Generation. – The Network shall be allowed to generate funds from advertising and air time sales in accordance with the policies and rates set by the Board of Directors: Provided, That in the three (3) year period after the effectivity of this Act and every three (3) years thereafter, advertising sales shall not exceed seventy-five percent (75%), fifty percent (50%), and twenty-five percent (25%), respectively, of the average advertising sales of individual commercial stations: Provided, further, That no commercial advertising shall be allowed nine (9) years after the effectivity of this Act: Provided, finally, That institutional advertising and blocktime sales shall not be covered by this limitations. All fees or other revenues collected or received by the Network shall be retained by it and utilized solely for its operations.

    This flaw of the law wasn’t realized until his only son, Noynoy Aquino, ascended to the Presidency. In 2013, he signed the amendment of the Charter that not only increases the legal capital to PHP 6 billion but also allows advertisers and airtime sales to generate revenue in the network, through Republic Act 10390. This news was welcomed by Mother Ignacia (ABS-CBN) and Reliance (TV5) but not from Timog Avenue (GMA).

    Yet, it was easier gazetted and promulgated than done. In the financial statements of the GOCC, audited by the Commission on Audit, no Congressional appropriation for PTV was made during his last years in office.

    Last January 25, he gave a go signal of the long-awaited privatization of IBC 13 after three decades of sequestration from the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG). The minimum bid was set to PHP 1.97 billion as Ramon Ang and the former network head, Eric Canoy fought for the ownership of the hopefully privatized enterprise. However, the news was utterly buried and forgotten due to the cacophony of the campaign season.

    During the transition period, Andanar assessed PTV and the whole Media ng Bayan consortium as “bulok” (rotten), compared to other public broadcasters around the world. He stressed that he will continue the search of private bidders for IBC 13 so that its proceeds may be used to modernize the network. His bidding price rises up to PHP 10 billion (a bit 5x than the original price from the GCG and 3x than the required proceeds from R.A. 10390). A week and a half before Duterte was sworn in as President, the Japanese government committed PHP 16.4 million grant to Channel 4 for the improvement of their programs.

    With the new President’s disgust to red tape in all government operations and his demand of immediate or within reasonable response, the hope of privatization of IBC and modernization of PTV will impact the stature and a part of its reputation of the latter entity much earlier than later.

    Management re-engineering & HR reorganization

    CharieVilla

    Media Newser Philippines made a boo-boo that Charie Villa will be the new general manager of PTV but PCOO Chief Martin Andanar has not confirmed it yet.

    A fortnight before inauguration, Andanar hinted that the new general manager and news head would come from ABS-CBN. On June 27, Media Newser Philippines prematurely announced that Charie Villa will sit on that highest post. Villa has a significant experience of building Mother Ignacia’s regional network group. However, Andanar clarified that it was not confirm yet on this assignment, according to the Manila Bulletin and soon, MNP withdraw its article.

    Last July 1, broadcaster-confidant and Andanar’s former colleague, Ben Tulfo blasted General Manager, Albert Bocobo, on his Bitag radio show, for corruption charges. Such quip from the commentator ended up tendering his courtesy resignation, together with chairperson Maria Cristina C. Mariano and the rest of the appointees of his predecessor, last Thursday.

    This should stir up Andanar to shake up the organization chart — not only on finding the new general manager — but also on its subordinates. Andanar should consider sacking Sports Division manager, Alberto Marbella, immediately after Snow Badua’s exposé last year on going beyond the limits of his responsibility.

    Last Friday, Andanar appointed and confirmed Dino Apolonio, a former TV5 executive, as general manager of the network. President Digong’s remaining appointments for the GOCC should remain impartial and non-partisan with integrity, both in appearance and in mind that will last long even after his term in 2022.

    That being said, the human resources reorganization of the network should hopefully be done sparingly but should be lasting unless necessary if the demands exceed their expectations.

    Operations set-up

    This is the most vital component in running an organization. How will PTV run in the next six years or more?

    Main programming should not be affected on passing presidential administrations except those produced and covered by PBS-RTVM.

    New GM Apolonio should do some bench-marking from both (1) the public broadcasters around the globe (such as the BBC in the United Kingdom, CBC in Canada, ABC in Australia, PBS in America, KBS in South Korea, NHK in Japan and the like) and (2) our commercial broadcasters on how their programs ran longer and how their channels on their respective entity ran successfully than theirs.

    Non-RTVM programs produced on Channel 4 should not name their shows based on political slogans, words or phrases associated by predecessors and the incumbent. Their name should last longer than his presidential term (beyond 2022). One best example is the morning program, Good Morning Boss, because the word “boss” is associated from his immediate predecessor, Noynoy Aquino where he uttered, Kayo ang boss ko, in his inaugural address back in 2010.

    For Digong’s show to be produced by RTVM until 2022 or earlier, Andanar considered expanding Gikan sa Masa, Para Sa Masa (From the Masses, For the Masses) from ABS-CBN Davao (DXAS-TV 4) to the national audience on PTV with the Filipino equivalent, Mula sa Masa, Para sa Masa. His show, together with the radio and print counterparts, will be launched by the end of August.

    So many questions arise from this consideration (one of these questions may pop up your mind):

    • Given the President’s working hours, would his show be weekly as it did before? Would the show be aired on 2:30 p.m.? (a pun of his surname)
    • Would Atty. Geraldine Tiu remain as the host as she will be projected nationwide from the tube?

    Let’s all just wait and see.

    When it comes to digital TV transition, PTV is underway with digitalization tests. So far, it was good on DTV channels 30-32 that are detectable through digiboxes from the exclusive Mahiwagang Black Box of ABS-CBN or those from inclusive reputable electronics companies.

    Let’s just hope Sec. Rodolfo Salalima of the newly-formed Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) devise a plan for an inclusive and peaceful dissemination and transition.

    Unanswered questions

    The Turf knows that most of you have so many random questions that pop out of your head that needs answers related to the overhaul of the government media entity.

    Maybe, some of them may finally be answered by Andanar or even by the President himself on his first State of the Nation Address in the next two weeks. But not all questions will always have answers that simple and/or straight to respond.

    Overall, will this mark ramones1986’s long-awaited reform into a reality? Only time will tell and the fruitful efforts and its assessment will determine what PTV is and what is yet to come.


    P.S. If you have any questions and suggestions on the outlook of PTV or Media ng Bayan for the Duterte years, please don’t hesitate to discuss it on this blog post, our Facebook page or on this blog’s subreddit.

    Credits: Rappler.com, RTVMalacanang and Starmometer.com

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    6 comments

      1. Unsurprising indeed. No sacred cows for NUJP on knowing their struggles than the management.

        To be honest, talents in PTV are coterminous with the President than those in the Big 3. Hence, the displacement lead to no sense of continuity and no going concern for them. But ABS, GMA & TV5 isn’t affected with national politics, thus, they resolve the problems with their respective unions better and easier.

        I agree on the application of MC Capulong’s saying that this country ain’t progressing; PTV and IBC is always politicizing, thus, it returns no loyal viewers.

        It’s up for Andanar to devise and implement their instructions of turning Channel 4 as an independent and impartial public broadcaster, just as Jerick really wanted.

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