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MANILA, Philippines – It’s like “reality TV” but you’re watching lawmakers craft laws and debate over proposed bills in real time.
The House of Representatives, in partnership with state-run People’s Television Network (PTV), launched CongressTV, which will air the lower chamber’s committee and plenary sessions from 9 am to 9 pm daily. This means House proceedings can be accessed through free television as well, on top of livestreams on Facebook and Youtube.
Lawmakers on Monday, January 22, touted this as their way of being more transparent with the public after supposedly receiving criticism last year.
“CongressTV is our commitment to ensuring that no Filipino is left in the dark, that every citizen is afforded a front-row seat to the legislative process,” House Speaker Martin Romualdez said. (READ: FACT CHECK: Romualdez not replaced as House Speaker)
ACT-CIS Representative Erwin Tulfo, who also sits as House majority leader, said giving greater public access to House proceedings would help keep elected lawmakers accountable to their constituents, especially now that some are up for reelection in 2025.
“Ito po ‘yung opportunity para makita ng mga kababayan natin wherever they are, kung ano ‘yung ginagawa ng kanilang representative – kung nagtatrabaho ba sa Congress o walang ginagawa,” Tulfo said.
(This is an opportunity for our countrymen wherever they are to see what their representatives are doing – if they are working in Congress or if they are not doing anything.)
Where to watch?
The public can tune in to CongressTV through Channel 14-PTV Digital Channel. PTV General Manager Ana Puod said they decided to host the program because the network has multiple channels under its frequency that does not air anything aside from replays from “many, many years ago.”
“Ako po ay nag-suggest na kung maaari ay baguhin namin ‘yung laman para ‘yung magiging bagong laman po ay makakatulong na sa pamahalaan [at] baka maging source pa ng income at mag-rate,” Puod said in a press conference on Monday.
(I suggested that we change its programs so that this can also help the government and it might also be a source of income and might even compete through ratings.)
CongressTV can also be accessed through Channel 46 via GMA Affordabox and Channel 2 on ABS-CBN TVPlus.
Inspired by Washington’s C-SPAN
CongressTV was inspired by the United States’ C-SPAN, which also airs proceedings in both houses of the US Congress.
According to C-SPAN’s website, among their goals is to “provide elected and appointed officials and others who would influence public policy a direct conduit to the audience without filtering or otherwise distorting their points of view.” C-SPAN airs sessions live and without commentary.
“‘Noong ako po ay na-appoint ng June, few weeks after, sinulatan ko si Speaker Martin Romualdez at ako po ay nag-propose na gayahin na natin ‘yung C-SPAN na meron po sa abroad para magkaroon po ‘yung Pilipinas, ‘yung gobyerno natin ng similar na channel,” Puod said.
(When I was appointed in June, a few weeks after, I wrote to Speaker Martin Romualdez and I proposed that we do something like C-SPAN so that the Philippines and our government can have a similar channel.)
Puod said it took a few months before she received a response.
Who produces Congress TV?
While lawmakers are the “stars” of the channel, production and editorial control for CongressTV remain with PTV.
“Maybe they can suggest content they think would be good but, at the end of the day, it’s PTV who is going to decide what’s going to air because CongressTV, although named CongressTV, is the property of PTV,” Puod explained in a mix of English and Filipino.
How much will it cost?
Without giving specifics, Puod said CongressTV will not be a burden on the state network’s financials.
“‘Yung transmission kasi namin is via RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) or may mga technology kaming ginagamit na hindi magiging very expensive for us to produce this,” Puod said.
(Our transmission is via RTMP or we use certain technology that will allow us to produce this without getting very expensive for us.
While CongressTV is not yet ad-supported, commercials from “private organizations or government agencies” will be welcome. Advertising revenue will be collected by PTV.
Will there be equal exposure?
A congressman’s exposure on live TV will depend on how they work at the lower chamber.
The launch of CongressTV comes a year before the 2025 midterm polls, when all seats in the lower chamber are up for grabs.
Puod clarified that since PTV will be airing live whatever is happening during session, it is up to lawmakers to perform and do their duty. – Rappler.com