If the media are in private hands, they will necessarily defend the interests only of those powerful enough to acquire them. But if to avoid the danger, the media are placed under the control of the state, this is like treating an illness with a cure that kills the patient.
- Mario Vargas Llosa, 2010 Nobel Laureate for Literature
IN "The Cultural Battle," Vargas Llosa referred to the dangers of media commercialism and state control. A response proposed by UNESCO to the inherent weaknesses of the commercial and the state-controlled models is that of public service broadcasting (PSB).
Those of us who have had some involvement with PTV 4 in the past, welcome its revitalization - the signing of a law which would infuse a P5 billion capitalization (R3 billion from General Appropriations, and the rest from advertising sales) that would improve programming and its capacity to "keep abreast of the latest technology such as digital TV and transmission upgrade that would improve signal quality." According to Secretary Sonny Coloma, this would allow the development of programs focusing on education, history, propagation of Philippine culture, and quality entertainment. It will be participative as various sectors will be invited to give concrete suggestions on programs beneficial to community and society. Too, an advisory council will be established that will "advise the network on relevant programming that will bolster the character of PTV as a public broadcasting network and the shifting of focus towards a 'new global best practice of public service broadcasting', so that it would become an active instrument in promoting the public welfare."
There is no question about the acceptance today of a government-run TV station that would eventually evolve into a PSB. This is primarily due to the credibility that the present administration enjoys. But the question raised by some, is: What, if future leaders do not follow through with the vision of evolving into a PSB? As I wrote in an earlier column, the Thai Public Broadcasting Service (TPBS) (and some other models) operated on a charter that guaranteed independence from the state. …