Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Ghana: Need to adequately resource the State Broadcaster, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation

The need to adequately resource the state broadcaster, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), to carry out its mandate of informing, educating and entertaining Ghanaians in line with statutory principles is never in doubt. The problem over the years has to do with translating into action the good intention of properly funding the GBC. At his recent vetting by the Appointment Committee of Parliament, the Minister of Information, Mustapha Hamid, raised the issue of funding for the state broadcaster. He stressed the need for his Ministry to collaborate with the GBC to enable it to raise its own funds through the revamping of the ongoing TV license fee collection. According to him, this would make the GBC financially independent like the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC. The Information Minister said this in response to the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu’s question on how he would improve the quality of GTV’s Signal in some parts of the country including Ho and Bole.

It is an acknowledged fact that the GBC for years now has been going through challenging moments. It is important to look at it more critically at this time when the proliferation of television and radio stations is regrettably posing a huge challenge to GBC’s raison d' ĂȘtre. It has been said over the years that GBC is losing out in competition to the private media in this era of globalisation.

Sadly, only a few know and appreciate the fact that GBC was established to perform a specific role in national development. Thus it is in no competition with any other media establishment, whether private or public. The responsibility imposed on the GBC requires adequate funding to enable it to stand out and be seen as performing its germane role in the democratic dispensation. Ghana's fledgling democracy really needs a neutral public broadcaster to reflect the diversity of its people.

Just recently, the GBC was accused of partiality in the performance of its duty of informing the public on the activities of political parties. However, little consideration was given to the inadequate resources at the disposal of the corporation in relation to the enormity of the task at hand. The likes of the BBC and other PUBLIC broadcasters in the world, are seen to be performing their roles effectively as a result of the resources placed at their disposal.

For instance, the BBC has its funding guaranteed by the constitution and insulated from any manipulation or control from any political quarters. When one juxtaposes BBC’s case to the situation GBC finds itself in, it is not hard to conclude that Ghana's case is nowhere near that of Britain in terms of conducive conditions to perform their duties. GBC recently reintroduced the collection of TV Licence fees to serve as a source of funding to guarantee the public broadcaster’s independence that is editorial and operational and self-reliance. That exercise has unfortunately not yielded any substantial result. There are reports that the corporation is spending more to collect the fees than it is receiving, as the Minority Leader rightly stated.

It is, therefore, refreshing to know that the new Information Minister has some plans on making the revenue generation efforts of GBC more efficient. That will help in rejuvenating and repositioning the Corporation to make the needed impact within the media competitive ecology. Following an interaction with the Director General of the GBC, Dr. Kwame Akuffo Anoff-Ntow, Mr Hamid is in better position to assess the corporation's modernization programme which started in 2007 and the current state of the implementation process. Dr. Kwame Akuffo Anoff-Ntow has made it clear that, with enough financial support from government, the GBC will be able to complete most of its projects to help boost its coverage and operations.

So, the problem of the GBC as a Public broadcaster is clear: critical among them is lack of resources from government to implement policies that will enhance its performance. One is only hoping that the promise from the new Minister of Information would not be a mirage. It should be seen as a statement of commitment to the national cause through the establishment of an independent and well-resourced public service broadcaster that would rub shoulders with the BBC and other public broadcasters elsewhere in the world.

By Ruth Abla Ajorlolo, a Journalist.

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