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Andanar touts TV-based learning using gov’t networks

By Ellson Quismorio

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar described the COVID-19 pandemic as a wake-up call to boost the country’s public broadcasting capabilities for purposes of education.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar (PCOO / FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar (PCOO / FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“The is actually a wake up call that government should be strengthening, investing in both TV network agencies that we have,” Andanar told the House Committees on Basic Education and Culture and on Higher and Technical Education during a virtual hearing Thursday afternoon.

Andanar was referring to the state-owned People’s Television Network (PTV-4) and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13), which could both be tapped as “broadcast distance education channels” for pupils especially now that face-to-face instruction is not feasible due to the threat of COVID-19 infections.

The PCOO boss underscored before the solons “the importance of the recommendation to increase our state TV’s analog transmission capability to help us decrease the transmission power of COVID-19.”

During the joint hearing, at least three House measures geared toward blended methods of learning or virtual education were on deck–House Bill (HB) No.6708 filed by Manila Teachers Party-List Rep. Virgilio Lacson, HB No.6691 filed by Deputy Speaker and Sorsogon 1st district Rep. Evelina Escudero, and House Resolution (HR) No.780 filed by South Cotabato 1st district Rep. Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles.

“There’s so much possibilities for the House Bills before us, particularly HB 6708. But allow me to speak about the limitations also….of government TV. There is a limitation with our government TV stations in terms of reach. Both stations would be in a better situation if it could broadcast from, say, 60 to 100 kilowatts (kW) at least in the National Capital Region,” Andanar said.

“Currently PTV transmits between 30 to 45 kW while IBC is broadcasting at less than 20 kW with both channels having outdated towers. But this is not to say that we cannot solve this problem,” noted the former media practitioner.

According to him, upgrading a network’s transmitter by one kW would cost an estimated P600,000 to P1 million.

“We’re talking about analog television. So if we’re looking at adding 50 kW to IBC’s transmission power for instance, an investment of about P50 million. Plus around another P50 million more to make it a complete turnkey solution.”

Blessing in disguise

Andanar told the joint panel that he personally prefers to use IBC-13 for broadcast distance education, being the more underutilized channel between the two. More importantly, he cites the good fortune that government hasn’t been able to sell off the network.

“We are still working on privatizing the network. So perhaps this is a blessing in disguise also. We still need this frequency to serve the entire nation. If the DepEd (Department of Education) uses this, then this entire frequency can be dedicated solely to DepEd,” he told Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd district Rep. Aurelio Gonzales, Jr., who asked about the status of IBC-13.

Andanar said a P100-million investment on IBC-13 would make it powerful enough to reach students in the National Capital Region (NCR) “and perhaps Region 3 and 4-A.”

He also stressed the need for DepEd “to partner with a direct to home satellite TV company or companies to supply our students in the provinces with satellite boxes so they can attend classes through television.”

As for the needed money, Higher and Technical Education panel chairman, Baguio lone district Rep. Mark Go said: “These two committees could recommend putting up funding for IBC…P100 million is very small compared to the impact it will have to the students all over the country.”

“It could either be government funded or some private firm [could] partner with DepEd and invest in IBC-13,” Andanar said.

Despite his support for TV-based learning, Andanar pointed out a key difference between that and its online counterpart, which uses videoconferencing tools.

“Analog television as we all know is a one way street, a one-way communications platform. And this would require a completely different solution. And I would leave this to DOST (Department of Science and Technology), DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology), our private telco and tech solutions partners,” he said.

The joint panel separately approved HB No.6708, HB No.6691, and HR No.780 before the end of the hearing. Lacson declined to have his measure consolidated with the others.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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