I am Jerick Aldrin P. Ilagan, also known by a variety of nicknames: Jerick, Aldrin, Jap, Japi.
regionalist, federalist, liberal, supporter and defender of public broadcasting, reader, well-opinionated, loves good (and daring) shows, good movies, good music. fan of alternate history. pro-RH Bill. gay.
According to Wikipedia, the definition of public broadcasting includes radio, television and other electronic media that receives all or part of their funding from the public. Here in the Philippines, there is an existing state-run network (NBN), yet the television landscape today is dominated by the “Three Giants”: ABS-CBN, GMA Network and ABC-TV5. Well, we must blame our TV pioneers for looking up too much for American TV as the model, when there is a European model.
Unfortunately, most of the provinces enjoy 30-minute newscasts produced by the regional arm of the two “Giants”: ABS-CBN and GMA. No other programming, period. Indeed, the rest of the country is a victim of “Imperial Television” operating from Manila. And also I forgot, even the citizens of Metro Manila are suffering from this set-up, because they want programs that reflect the vibrancy of the metropolis life. Luckily, some provinces like Cebu and Pampanga set up their own TV networks. However, they are privately-owned and available only in cable.
One question that lingers every Filipino: why we need a strong public broadcaster, both in the provincial and national level? I will give various reasons to justify it.
1. The Filipino televiewers need high-quality programming that suits every social strata of the society. Most of the programs that the “Three Giants” offer is for the lower strata of the society, alienating the other two classes, while the programming of the 70s to mid-80s exclusively cater to the upper and middle classes. Thus, in a strong public broadcaster, there is a balance in interest when it comes to programming.
2. To show cultural awareness among a large audience by actively promoting cultural and intellectual programming. Since the fall of Marcos regime, culture is still perceived as “anti-poor” and elitist. Presenting such programs a language understands by most people could lessen this misunderstanding.
3. To present news and current affairs in an objective, impartial and professional way. The news presented in the “Giant Three” networks is full of sensationalism that disgusted a growing number of viewers. In a strong public broadcaster, the news are clear and objective, no sensationalism, as they focus more on economy, politics, culture and other more genuinely interesting topics that are news-worthy.
4. In case of the provincial public broadcasters, they will serve as the steward of the identity of their own provinces, especially in non-Tagalog provinces. We should be alarmed that languages in Cordillera and Lumad Mindanao are losing ground to languages like Ilocano and Cebuano, as well as the situation in provinces like Pangasinan, Pampanga, Palawan, and Capiz. Thus, a strong provincial public broadcaster could hamper the said situation and reverse it.
5. By having a strong public broadcaster, it will serve as the unofficial language academy, as they used “straight” and “correct” form of the language they used (ex. in the national, as well as in the Tagalog-speaking provinces, they will use “correct” Tagalog, both formal and informal in their programs).
6. Ratings are secondary to quality improvement.
Many of you will ask the problems that will encounter of setting it up. One of those are the following:
2. Lack of political will.
3. Fear of corruption and manhandling public money.
4. Low quality programming.
5. Advertiser’s influence
Though the problems said above will hamper the plan, we must remember that setting up a strong public broadcaster, both in national and provincial level, will serve like an oxygen needed to save the Philippine television landscape from being a “telebasura” landscape.
We just need a political will.