For decades now, UP professor Elizabeth Diaz had been patiently explaining to politicians, NGOs, media practitioners and broadcasters that with a public broadcasting service (PBS), hot issues as far ranging as youth development, drug abuse, womens rights, gender equality and conservation can be covered as adequately as cultural traditions, crafts and tribal rituals. The now retired communications professor is confident that such a system would flourish in the country inspite of the heavily commercial orientation of its broadcasting.
"PBS can be a viable alternative to commercial broadcasting and an acceptable conduit to the traditional education system," Diaz explains.
Recently, UNESCO convened a planning workshop on the proposed Philippine public broadcasting service with ample help from the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication and the Office of Government Mass Media group. During the powwow, the anticipated highs and lows of such a system were discussed. The daylong meeting ended with over forty participants fired up with optimism that the concept of a PBS was a step closer to fruition.
By days end, it was clear that NBN 4, which has been in doldrums for several years now, is the most likely candidate for a takeover. The conversion will happen by way of legislation and once operational, the colossal task begins of convincing viewers that the new station is not a rehash of the old. Such a PBS hopes to provide a broad programming spectrum similar to the renowned British Broadcasting Corporation in England, ABC of Australia, Canadian Broadcasting System, NHK of Japan and ZDF of Germany.
A PBS will have as its chief task the provision of service to audiences that are traditionally not factored in commercial broadcasting, e.g. cultural minorities and specific groups of disadvantaged people. In a capsule, Diaz describes PBS as one that is expected to provide a common reference point for all members of the public, a forum for broad public discussion, impartial news coverage, pluralistic, innovative and varied programming, the reflection of different ideas and beliefs in plpuriethnic and multi-cultural societies, a diversity of national and cultural heritage, programming that is of wide public interest and one that is attentive to the needs of minorities, original productions by independent producers and extended viewer and listener choices through program offerings that are not provided by the commercial broadcasting sector.
A working definition …