State-owned People’s Television 4 (PTV-4) is going commercial after President Benigno Aquino has endorsed its bid to join the competition for broadcast ads.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Monday that allowing PTV-4 to compete for ads was one of two major changes that the President wanted made in the proposed amendments to the network’s charter, Republic Act No. 7306.
The other change is the infusion of P5 billion in new capital into PTV-4. The amount will come from the proceeds of the sale of two sequestered stations—Radio Philippines Network (RPN) Channel 9 and Inter-Continental Broadcasting Corp. (IBC) Channel 13—and funds raised from spectrum management fees collected by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from the broadcasting and telecommunications industry.
“The President’s vision is to transform PTV’s image from a propaganda machine in the past administration to a public service station which provides meaningful and balanced news to the public in the mold of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corpporation),” Coloma said in a phone interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Coloma said there was a need for Congress to amend RA 7306, which prohibits PTV-4 from getting ads and limits its financing to state funds.
“This provision, while aimed at ensuring that PTV will not actively compete with commercial networks, proved to be detrimental as the network failed to sustain the viability of its operations while being allowed to earn only institutional revenues from government entities like Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) and PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office),” Coloma said.
He said the lack of commercial earnings had depleted PTV-4’s P1 billion capitalization, requiring fresh investment from the government.
The Cabinet’s economic development cluster will complete within the year the privatization schedule for RPN 9 and IBC 13, while both the House and the Senate have already discussed the bills that would amend PTV-4’s charter at the committee level.
Coloma said PTV-4 would use its fresh capital to buy new equipment, improve its broadcast signals, and reformat its programming to at least 60 percent for news and public affairs and 40 percent for socially relevant entertainment, including educational, historical and and cultural programs.
On Monday, PTV-4 launched “Panahon.TV,” a 24-hour weather program that Coloma said would provide the public weather information in plain language.
Panahon.TV is the idea of Coloma and Lina Group of Companies chair Alberto Lina. Coloma said it was their response to the public clamor for weather information they could understand.
Donna Flavier, Panahon.TV executive producer and UBE Media Inc. representative, said the weather program was the result of six months of conceptualization and meetings with PTV-4 officials.
“This is our response to President Aquino’s order for the public to be given accurate and clear information on the weather,” Flavier said.
The first telecast of the program is scheduled for September 10, from 5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. The program will air from Monday through Friday, with hourly updates from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) airing on a special segment.
The program will have four regular segments: “Laging Handa” (Always Prepared), for tips and reminders in times of crisis and natural calamities; “Tamang Oras” (Right Time), for trivia and facts about the right time or season for activities; “Napapanahong Kaalaman” (Timely Information), for basic terminologies in weather forecasting; and “Sigla” (Health), for tips and information on how weather can affect health.