[AUTHOR’S WARNING: The following post may hurt the sentiments of the TV network in concern, along with its employees and its loyal viewers. Please, read at your own risk.]
IBC 13’s new headquarters and studios since 2019
PUBLIC INSTRUCTION should have started this week but for this year, it is deferred until August 24.
Until that day, teachers across the nation are currently required to report and to attend necessary seminars on different modes of distance learning when traditional face-to-face instruction is not practical due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two weeks ago, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar suggested before the House Committees on Basic Education and Culture and on Higher and Technical Education during a virtual hearing that television will serve as another venue of distance learning if the internet signal is weak and/or unreliable.
Hold it! Didn’t we have Knowledge Channel for that?
Yep, but they’re neither on free-to-air at the start nor they are owned by the government. As we all know, the owner of that channel (ABS-CBN) is one of the adversaries of the incumbent Duterte administration. (Stop being in denial and admit it.)
Basically, Andanar intended to emulate that of NHK E-TV of Japan or EBS of South Korea.
To which we beg to Mr. Secretary: Why did you think about it NOW after almost four years?
An educational TV channel in the free-to-air transmission is not a new concept now; hence, we are totally a late adopter.
He mentioned that IBC 13 — the financial and operational antithesis of ABS-CBN — would be used among the two state-owned channels since it is “underutilized.” (Indeed, and a lot of adjectives that we don’t need to further elaborate.)
What if he was a man for this word now that he has two years left?
A very straight-to-the-point question that unravels a more complicated answer.
The Hypothetical Timetable
The ongoing pandemic would be cleared out when a reasonable treatment or a vaccine is available to the public and that would last at least a year. Thus, we have a year left for Martin to fix this mess.
Meanwhile, potential production companies — since the network themselves couldn’t afford to produce more of their own programs due to running losses — have to be oriented on the new policies and to imbibe on the curriculum guides approved by the Department of Education (DepEd).
The Programming Operations
The operation calendar will be split into two: during the basic education’s school year and outside.
During the School Year (June to March)
The weekday daytime could be dedicated for every core subject from kindergarten to senior high school. Weeknights could be dedicated to specialized subjects for senior high school and adult education programs.
The weekend could be the best time for cultural shows, vocational-technical shows and documentaries. Reinstating Ating Alamin or transfer Mag-Agri Tayo from PTV could take place here.
Outside the School Year (April to May)
During the months where no classes are held, lifelong learning subjects would take place. Foreign educational shows that are on PTV right now would be transferred there.
The channel would sign on from 6:00 a.m. and sign off at midnight every day, except Holy Week.
In terms of the time slot in the program grid, the show must run at least 30 minutes and continuous (i.e. no splitting into two segments).
Obstructions and Objections
If this “Educational Television Service” (ETS) happened, almost all of current and future programming (now on hold) on the current IBC 13 must end.
In other words, say goodbye to their institutional yet ad nauseam EZ Shop home shopping block and ba-bye for El Shaddai.
SIDE NOTE: Since DBS has not migrated their programs to their Channel 35 and the weekly family appointment in Amvel is not allowed due to community quarantine rules. Bro. Mike Velarde should have learned from Bro. Bo Sanchez by adapting to social media.
SMAC Television Production’s promo of entertainment programs slated this year but are currently on hold (including Yes! Yes! Yow!) would have no choice but to transfer such shows to another channel or to scrap entirely without seeing their own light of day before undergoing to this proposed paradigm shift.
While ASK TV will be moved because it’s a variety show, the PMPC Star Award show Talents Academy might be the only program to carry over to the new venture due to informative content. If the coast is clear, Cooltura would resume and be another carryover show.
For those Batang 90s or to those born after (“by heart”) who want to push for new tokusatsu shows and new animes on that channel: Well, you can just forget about that when this comes around.
In that comprehensive Manila Bulletin story, Sec. Andanar mentioned the “analog transmission” of both state-owned TV networks are below the normal transmitting power to satisfy the reach of the Metro Manila market. According to him, the satisfactory range in that area is from 60 to 100 kilowatts; for IBC, it registered less than 20 kilowatts. Attributed to the outdated tower, upgrading it by one kilowatt would cost at most a million pesos.
Digital TV experts are raising their eyebrows for “not leading by example” as the clock is ticking forward to 2023. Although, there was a silver lining that IBC has done digital TV testing (at least, sporadically) than PTV despite the low video resolution.
The funding to close that gap and to leap forward with better technology will be discussed in a bit.
This potential venture raised an alarm for some people that using the channel would be a tool to pursue favorable views of the incumbent president’s agenda akin to the “Wow China” radio program on the radio counterpart, RP1 (738 kHz).
To prevent the situation from happening again, the proposed ETS charter should include an explicit provision of independence from government interference despite maintaining their ownership.
Funding and Revenue Generation
The most important question that everyone should care about: Where will the funds come from?
All of us would easily think that it will come from a portion of the budgets of DepEd, Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Often, the aggregate amounts may still be insufficient to cover operating expenses.
Government-owned-and-controlled corporations usually do not allow excessive donations to be received as it might be a source of “bribery” and “corruption.”
This means they need to pass the charter from Congress with explicit provisions to allow room for revenue generation from donations and grants from relatable private foundations, sales from textbooks and learning materials related to the programs, and ads from educational suppliers.
Continuing Operations Post-2022
Once this administration ends on the noon of June 30, 2022, this is the question most of you are thinking: “Would this endeavor continue to operate?”
It’s hard to answer but for sure, it will probably continue to the end of that school year (i.e. March 2023). What comes next might depend on the hands of Andanar’s successor.
Final Answer: Is it Worth It?
That all being said, turning a vegetative TV network into an educational channel will make a profound impact — even though we are decades late for the party.
When this endeavor of a shakeup materializes, the privatization process of the current network, which is currently running in circles for a long time, would finally grind into a halt. It would yield the final verdict that it will never happen, which could make the persistent calls of retirees and employees for payment long-overdue back wages end up in futility.
Last but certainly not least, the worthiness of being a national TV network will be tested.
The answer to one summative question: “Is this venture really risking for?” is now all up to you.
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Photo courtesy of IBC 13 / Radyo Todo