The country's government television network began operations on February 2, 1974 as Government Television (GTV-4) through the National Media Production Center. The government channel was first headed by Lito Gorospe and later by the then-Press Secretary during the Marcos Administration, Francisco Tatad.
It was renamed Maharlika Broadcasting System in 1980 under the leadership of NMPC Minister Grego Cendana, at the same time the network began broadcasting in full color, thus it was the last national network to transition to color broadcasting. By then, it began expanding with the opening of provincial stations nationwide, including 2 stations in Cebu and Bacolod who once owned by pre-martial law ABS-CBN.
Following the People Power Revolution in 1986 on which it was taken over by pro-Corazon Aquino soldiers and supporters, it was, during that very historic event in national history, officially rebranded as People's Television (PTV) at the same time. It later became the national network for the broadcasts of the 1988 Summer Olympics.
On March 26, 1992, President Cory Aquino signed Republic Act 7306 turning PTV Network into a government corporation known formally as People's Television Network Inc.
Shortyly After he took over the mantle of the goverment in june 1992, President Fidel V. Ramos appointed PTV Network's first board of directors. The Network was given a one-time equity funding for capital outlay. Since 1992, PTV has been operating on revenues it generates on its own. Repubic Act 7306 stipulates that the government shall not appriate funds for the operations of the Network.
PTNI is on full satellite transmission nationwide since 1992 using PALAPA C2. Its flagship station PTV-4, which is based in Quezon City, boasts of a 40-kilowatt brand new transmitter sitting on a 500 ft (150m) tower. With its 32 provincial stations across the country, the network has extended its reach and coverage to approximately 85 percent of the television viewing public nationwide.
So far, PTNI has come up with kind of programs that have earned for itself the Hall of Fame Award for Best Station and for Most Balanced Programming in 1987 and two succeeding years thereafter, from the CatholicMass Media Award (CMMA). It has, to its name, several pioneering and award-winning educational, cultural and public service programs for their relevance and production excellence. In 1996, PTV won the award for Best TV Station ID ("Ang Network Para sa Pilipino") in PMPC Star Awards for Televison.
PTNI has pioneered educational and cultural programming. Some of its award winning programs were Tele-aralan ng kakayahan (which predated ABS-CBN's The Knowledge Channel by decades), Ating Alamin, Small World (and its successor) Kidsongs, For Art's Sake, Cost to Cost and Paco Park Presents. In the 1990s, at the core of its educational programming is the continuing educational programming Via Televison or CONSTEL, a program aimed at upgrading teaching skills of elementary and secondary teachers of Science and English. Institutionalized by Department of Eduction, culture and sports and in Teacher Education Institutions of Commission on Higher Education.
PTNI has also been the official broadcaster of major international sports competitions. It has covered the Olympic Games, starting with 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, except Barcelona Olympics in 2008 (covered by Solar Entertainment Corporation) and the London Olympics in 2012 (covered by TV5). PTNI was the carrying station of the South East Asian Games in 1991, 1995, 2005, and 2007, missing in 2009. During these coverage, PTNI has received commendations from various spots organizations. In 1996, it received a presidential citation from then President Fidel V. Ramos for the successful coverage of the Atlanta Olympic Games.
On July 16, 2001, under the new management appointed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, PTNI adopted the new image and name National Broadcasting Network (NBN) carrying a new slogan "One People. One Nation. One Vision." for a new image in line with its new programming thrust, they continued the new name until the president-Aquino administration in 2010.
NBN expanded its broadcast reach with the launching of NBN World on February 19, 2003 in cooperation wtith the Television and Broadcasting Service (TARBS). This global expansion signals new directions for NBN as it becomes accessible to the rest of the world, particularly the millions of Filipinos overseas. NBN can be seen in Australia, North America and the Asia-Pacific. NBN is transmitting via satellite nationwide using Agila 2 but now moved to ABS 1 last September 2011.
Before the year 2010, NBN main studios in Quezon City and its regional stations in Baguio, Cebu and Naga will be equipped with the most modern news gathering equipment for them to complete with the major television networks. Also, a new Harris Transmitter has been installed. NBN's transmitter power shall be increased from 40 kW to 60 kW. NBN's digital channel is now available on channel 48 using the Japanese digital TV standard.
In 2011, NBN continued to enhance it's digital broadcasting capabalities with equipment donated from the Japanese government. This equipment will also allow NBN to begin broadcasting emergency alerts when necessary (similar to the Emergency Alert System in the United States, but it is more likely, due to the usage of the Japanese digital TV standard, that the system would be based on the Japanese J-Alert system).
Although the branding is officially known as the National Broadcasting Network, in August 2011, the "People's Television" brand which was retired in 2011 was reintroduced as a secondary brand until a few months later, PTNI became a primary brand, and the branding National Broadcasting Network was retired.
On March 2013, President Benigno Aquinio III signed Republic Act 10390, superseding the old Charter, in which the management will be under reorganization and the government will infuse P5 billion to PTV revitalized the station and make it "digital competitive" in spite of GMA Networks's questionings of the law, fearing that it may enter competition. PTV has earned P59 million generated revenues for the first and second quarter of 2014.
Under the new management, PTV has started their modernization program (since 2012) including the acquisition of studio technical equipment, cameras, vehicles and high-powered transmitter for main office in Visayas Avenue, Quezon City, together with few regional offices, included in their plans is the rehabilitation of PTV stations in Naga, Baguio, Iloilo, Cebu, Zamboanga, Cotabato, Calbayog, Tacloban, Pagadian, and Dumagete.
Despite being operated with little or no budget, the new PTV had still managed to cover the biggest events in the country including the 2013 National and Local Elections, 2013 Central Visayas Earthquake, Typhoon Ketsana, the visits of US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis and the APEC Philippines 2015.
It should be noted that in 2005, several Radio ng Bayan programs were also aired on then NBN with the Visayas Avenue studios used for some of them, under the Tinig ng Bayan. In 2014, the partnership between the two was revived with an all new morning news program, RadyoBisyon, which is also simulcast on IBC-13 and heard in Radyo ng Bayan stations nationwide, broadcasting from its own studios and the RnB radio booth. Before the launch, RnB - as part of the Philippine Broadcasting Service - had already, since 2012, been simulating News @ 1 and News @ 6 on radio on all its stations.