February 13 is World Radio Day and it is prudent to extol the virtues of radio broadcasting especially in Ghana and the developing world. In Ghana, radio as in broadcasting has served and continue to serve various communities. Radio has helped in many ways to educate, inform and entertain many Ghanaians and others across the World. The history radio in Ghana dates back to 1935 when station ZOY was set up in the then Gold Coast. Since then, the coverage of radio in the country has been phenomenal especially with the liberalisation of the airwaves in 1996. Radio especially the state owned Radio Ghana continues to pursue its public service mandate with news and programmes that do not only educate entertain and inform but also enable the people to understand and appreciate government programmes. Radio Ghana and its affiliates in all the 10 regions of Ghana continue to make an impact on the lives of Ghanaians.
This is not to say that there no challenges. Radio Ghana has its challenges per equipment and staff strength. However it is heartwarming the current Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) management is focused on ensuring that Radio Ghana coverage and programmes are enhanced to enable the Corporation to fulfil its public broadcasting mandate. It is even more reassuring that the Minister of Information, Mustapha Hamid, during the vetting by the Appointment Committee of Parliament was emphatic in his desire to ensure that the role of the GBC is enhanced. He said "it is important that we are able to raise the standard of GBC to a BBC." He continued 'we must look forward to a GBC that can fund itself and be independent." These are reassuring words and it is hoped the Minister with the GBC management and Board would bring these desires to fruition. With GBC Radio on such a high pedestal in terms of news and programming, there is no doubt that Ghana would be the greatest beneficiary. Not only would collection and dissemination of news be enhanced, educative programming would also contribute immensely to deepening democratic practices and help the Ghanaian engage more in democracy.
Even though GBC has embarked on a renewed drive to mobilise funds through TV licence collection, weaning itself completely from government assistance would not be an overnight thing. But an independent and self-funded GBC, would not only enable the corporation to improve its news and programming content, but would also insulate it from government interference and control as best practiced the world over depict. It would take the collaboration of the Board and management of the corporation and the Minister of Information to enable GBC achieve and sustain a high level of delivery to the Ghanaian populace. That G.B.C Radio and Television despite the challenges remains a force to be reckoned with in media circles cannot be overemphasized, but it is also true that the Corporation has lost some grounds due to the liberalisation of the airwaves.
There is the need therefore for staff to rededicate themselves to hardwork and professionalism to enhance the public broadcasting profile of the Corporation. It is imperative that this happens, if not, commercialisation will drown the import of public service broadcasting. GBC workers welcome the positive convictions and determination of the Minster of Information.
Together we can indeed bring GBC to the level of the best public broadcast entities in this world.
BY TEYE KITCHER, A JOURNALIST.