Alternate History: Provincial Television in the Philippines

It was September 1967. The Congress passed a law requiring every province to create their own television service beginning in the following year, 1968.

At that time, the existing provincial broadcasting entities were jointly owned by provincial government and the national broadcaster RTPP/PBS (Radio-Telebisyong Pambansa ng Pilipinas/Philippine Broadcasting Service), so the then updated “Provincial Broadcasting Law” extended this model unto the television service of these provincial broadcasters.

Cebu was the first province to set up their own television service (31th of October 1967) more than three months before the official date of start of launching required by the law (2 January 1968), followed by Iloilo (15 November, 1967), Pampanga (30 November, 1967) and Ilocos (12 December, 1967). This caused a big controversy. But these provinces provided the answer: The society wanted it.

Samar launched its television service on the day itself (2 January, 1968). More provinces followed, like Zamboanga (26 February,1968),the Community of Manila (24 June,1968) and Batangas (23 July, 1968). It took three years before every province in the archipelago launched its own television service.

According to the said law, the second channel of the provincial television services will launch more than five years after the establishment of the first channel.

During the Philippine transition to democracy (the years after the death of Ferdinand Marcos in 1984), calls for reforming the public broadcasting system reached the new Congress.

15th December,1987. The Congress passed the new “Provincial Broadcasting Law”⁰ that required every provincial government to create their own public broadcasting corporation, ending the co-ownership of the national broadcaster (now renamed Corporaciong RTPP) with the provincial government. Also according to the said law, the newly-created provincial public broadcasting corporation is answerable to their provincial legislature.

[⁰It is said that aside from maintaining some of the provisions of the previous Provincial Broadcasting Laws (1937 and 1967), the new law also inspired by the Spain’s Third Television Channel Law (Ley de la Tercer Canal) and by the new Charter of Corporaciong RTPP, which in turn inspired by the BBC Charter].