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Public service broadcasting system urged

The Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) and the NOW Group are pushing for the immediate passage of the proposed Philippine Public Service Broadcasting Act.

The Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) and the NOW Group are pushing for the immediate passage of the proposed Philippine Public Service Broadcasting Act.

In separate letters addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano, AIJC president emeritus and trustee Florangel Rosario-Braid said the proposed bill will enhance the public’s claim to its constitutional right to information on matters of public concern as well as the Charter’s recognition of the vital role of communication and information in national-building.

AIJC is a non-stock non-profit institution engaged in continuing education and media development established in 1980 by icons in Philippine journalism, communication, and education, such as former Philippine vice-president Salvador P. Lopez, Jose Luna Castro, and Bro. Andrew Gonzales.

The group is chaired by Mel Velarde, also its CEO. Velarde also heads the NOW Group, which includes public listed telecommunications, media and technology firm NOW Corp., NOW Telecom, and NOW Cable. 

According to Velarde, NOW is supporting the proposed PPSB and is willing to provide the broadcasting and technology expertise while AIJC would handle content and courseware creation.

In her letter, Braid pointed out that the current Philippine media environment highlights the important role of the PPSB could play in addressing development issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and the emerging new normal, disinformation and misinformation, the need for risk and crisis communication, and educational broadcasting as a more viable distance learning mode due to poor internet connectivity.

She noted that since the 8th Congress in 1987, bills proposing the setting up of a public service broadcasting (PSB) had been regularly introduced but have not been enacted into law due to various reasons, making the Philippines one of the few countries in the world without a PBS.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines PSB as “broadcasting made, financed and controlled by the public, for the public. Thus, the PSB is neither commercial, not state-owned, is free from political interference and pressure from commercial forces.

AIJC has advocated for three decades now the setting up of a PSB and has received support from UNESCO in conducting research, multi-stakeholder consultations, and workshops on setting up a Philippine PSB.

Braid, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission and UNESCO commissioner, emphasized that the setting up of a PSB will usher in a new era for Philippine broadcasting.

Under the proposed bill submitted by the group, the PSB system will be independent in programming with decentralized and self-sustaining local stations that will produce suitable programs for their respective communities. Since it will not be driven by profit, public service broadcasting will primarily provide high-quality programs to serve public interest and mobilize all sectors for national unity and development.

It pointed out that broadcasting remains as the most feasible alternative learning platform as internet connectivity remains elusive in many parts of the country. Broadcasting as an effective learning platform requires systematic planning and programming that only a PSB can ensure, it said.

As proposed, the PPSB shall be governed by a board of directors composed of 13 members have relevant expertise in the fields of basic or higher education, communication education and research, media practice, broadcast organization and program development, business management and finance, information and communication technology, agriculture and environment, and health and wellness. There will also be representatives from marginalized groups including the rural/urban poor, farmers/fisherfolk, differently abled persons, senior citizens, indigenous people, women, and the youth. The board will have accountability for the PPSB to the people through the NEDA director-general.

The board members shall be appointed by a selection board with 15 members consisting of the chairperson of the KBP, the executive director of the Philippine Press Institute, the executive director of the Film Academy of the Philippines, a representative from the AIJC, the president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the secretary general of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the head of a children’s NGO, the executive director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Department of Education secretary, the director of the NCIP, the chairperson of the Philippine Sports Commission, the head of the National Council on Disability Affairs, the chairperson of the Philippine Council of Women, and the executive director of the National Council for Children’s Television.

All department of government including GOCCs shall allocate not exceeding 2 percent of their total budget for the production of educational, civic, and community service programs by the PPSB related to the programs of each agency.

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