Channel 9

Orly Mercado

Posted on January 7, 2008

Psyching myself up…

I am in the midst of preparing for a corporate planning session tomorrow. I am taking a respite from this task by writing this blog. Now you may ask what crazy company would conduct a planning session as late as the first week of the year. And why would someone need the psychological crutch of unburdening himself just to do the job.

Well, it is arguably the right thing to do if you have only recently accepted the job of being president and CEO of a radio-television network that has had too many changes in leadership. Twenty-one years ago, the Philippine government sequestered it after the fall of President Marcos in the first EDSA people power revolt.

Today, Radio Philippines Network (RPN-TV Channel 9) is a mere shadow of its former self. It once proudly proclaimed itself the leader in the industry. That was when it had the largest audience and market share of advertising revenues. Not anymore. It remains in government control, and privatization has yet to be realized. It appears that what was achieved was the opposite of the original objective of sequestration, that is, the preservation of its assets.

I came home from a three-year stay in Japan just before Christmas. In the usual round of parties I have been to, most of my friends have asked me why I accepted the job. I half seriously tell them that I miss the adrenalin pains a real difficult job has to offer. I will not detail the numerous problems the network faces. There may not be enough space on this blog for it. However from the two weeks that I have been at work, I have realized how important the work environment is to productivity.

Not a few friends have asked where the offices and studios of RPN-9 are. I naturally reply that it has been there at Broadcast City in Capitol hills, Quezon City all these years. They have never moved. But through the years, they may have unconsciously faded from the radar screen and have been marginalized both on and off the air. Today, one can easily miss the Broadcast City complex. A popular restaurant and a Celebrity sports club are the landmarks people use nowadays.

Its offices and studios are not what I remembered them to be from previous visits. As I walk around (I am a believer in management by walking around-mbwa) I have come to realize how much this former corporate industry leader now looks more and more like a forgotten government office. The state of disrepair of the buildings in the relatively spacious complex is matched only by the frayed labor relations between top management and its labor unions. There isn’t even a sign advertising the network or its programs. In a business where self promotion is de rigueur it is uncharacteristic to be so low key.

To be sure, this may be the least of my problems. But how do you solve other management problems without treating its “sick building syndrome”? For an obsessive-compulsive like me, it may be the reason why I need this blog to distract me as I prepare to tackle some long standing intractable problems. I am just psyching myself ahead of expected adrenalin pains.

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