24 July, 2017 / By By Rex L. Navarro, Bussines Mirror.com.ph
IN his first State of the Nation Address, President Duterte called for the creation of a People’s Broadcasting Corp. (PBC), replacing PTV-4, the government-run TV station. The PBC aims to replicate credible international public broadcasting networks like the British Broadcasting Corp. Along with this, he also announced that the government’s Radyo ng Bayan will be merged with the PBC and upgraded to be financially viable and become editorially independent for a more intelligent treatment of national and international news.
The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines recognizes the vital role of communication and information in nation building and the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. The broadcast media performs a vital role in strengthening Philippine democracy and national development. It is the lifeblood of economic prosperity and national development by facilitating trade and commerce, sharing technological innovations, improving the delivery of public services, forewarning against natural disasters, fostering national harmony and dialogue and spreading education and knowledge.
Being the most pervasive source of public information, the broadcast media helps shape an enlightened citizenry capable of making informed and intelligent decisions for them to meaningfully participate in nation building.
At the global level, the flow of information across national borders is also essential in fostering international understanding and cooperation. The broadcast media greatly helps cultivate establishment of ethnic-minority programming services and contribute to informed public debate and critical thinking.
As envisioned by the President, the PBC will be independent in programming, with decentralized and self-sustaining local stations, which will produce suitable programs for their respective communities. Being public, the PBC will not be driven by profit and will primarily provide high-quality programs to serve the people’s interest and mobilize all sectors for national unity and development.
Moreover, national peace requires dialogue through a full and free flow of ideas which is principally achieved through an independent media. The PBC can make a key contribution to national peace by sharing everyone’s views and opinions in an atmosphere of understanding and respect for others. The prevailing conflict in Mindanao and other parts of the country can be solved through peaceful dialogue and the convergence of various interests through articulation in the public media.
Experiences of other countries, like India, show the benefit of providing balanced information services through the operation of public-service broadcasting alongside commercial systems. This has encouraged media professionals to reduce unnecessary display of violence and triviality in their programs and focus on delivering wholesome entertainment and development-oriented information to all their citizens.
Likewise, public-service broadcasting will strengthen partnerships among professional media organizations and create new alliances with major stakeholders, reinforcing media pluralism.
Such a system, if adopted, can definitely help the Philippine government in strengthening democracy and in bringing about political, economic and social progress and stability in the country, especially under a federal system of governance.
Even as some initial headway has been achieved in community broadcasting in selected areas of the country, there is an urgent need to mainstream and institutionalize public-service broadcasting to serve the information needs of the Filipino people.