NEWS COMMENTARY ON GBC’S 85th ANNIVERSARY,ACHIEVEMENTS,CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS AMID COVID-19
Eighty five years in the life of any entity is no mean achievement, if its challenges and achievements impacted generations positively. The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation—the State Broadcaster clocked 85 years on July 31. It has in this period been committed to providing credible, reliable and quality broadcasting and communication services. The Corporation prides itself in promoting national consciousness, programmes, loyalty, self-reliance, as well as providing strong sense of national identity. It has also been guided by a high standard of professionalism, objectivity accuracy, balance and excellence. Through its chequered, history, GBC which begun its journey as Station ZOY in 1935 now has Regional and Community Radio Stations, digital television channels, online presence and training Colleges. Without a shade of doubt, the Corporation still remains the leading broadcasting station with nationwide reach, as well as mandate to do public broadcasting.
Inspite of the many successes chalked up over the decades, today, GBC is bedeviled with myriad of challenges. Some of these are; lack of equipment, debt accumulation, low revenue mobilization, human resource attrition and the effects of Covid-19 which have further compounded some of the existing challenges. These notwithstanding, the Corporation under the able leadership of its 19th Director General, Professor Amin Alhassan, management and staff have held their own and continue to surmount challenges in serving the nation with an evangelical zeal. But for the challenges of Covid-19, this milestone should have been heralded and climaxed with a series of activities, but not relegating pomp and pageantry to the background.
The National Media Commission, Board, Management and Staff of the GBC as well as the public deserve a pat on the back for their stance in resisting recent attempts by the Communications Minister to force the Corporation to relinquish three of its six digital television channels. The swift response goes to show that contrary to perceptions that GBC is irrelevant in contemporary times, the opposite is the case. Government as a matter of urgency ought to come to the aid of the Corporation by assisting it to acquire new equipment in line with modern trends. The State has relied on its broadcaster over the years, but has as it were relinquished its obligation towards it. This is premised on the non-payment of TV license fee, a mandate which is not only a civic responsibility, but a legal requirement for television owners. This issue must be revisited considering the fact that the Corporation is unable to meet its financial obligations because its main source of internally generated income which is commercials has taken a nose dive plummeting revenue significantly. How can GBC survive without the needed revenue? It must be noted that Covid-19 has undoubtedly taken a heavy toll on the world’s economy, and Ghana is no exception. In the past few months, many compatriots have exhibited their hitherto hidden entrepreneurial skills and creative abilities to stay afloat. GBC, just like other entities have leveraged on the situation to provide a platform for programmes to be held virtually. Mention could be made of both the Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha ceremonies held at the Corporation’s Headquarters in Accra. In the same vein, the Corporation’s marketing, promotion branding dynamics ought to be re-oiled, refined and dovetailed into current schemes of business transaction, not neglecting its vision as a public service broadcaster. Its content must witness a paradigm shift. This must be carefully considered and crafted innovatively to woo prospective advertisers and patrons alike. Lest we forget, we find ourselves in another political season, but this time round of a difference. This is due to the impact of Covid-119 which has significantly reduced campaign activities and limited it more to virtual and social media modes of transmission. The GBC which has aa nationwide reach should take advantage of this and project into the financial realm. Although it is mandated to give equal opportunities to all parties, the Corporation should make overtures to the contenders to campaign on its platforms, bearing in mind that thousands of voters who are not on social media would consume what is broadcast on its channels. The Corporation can sell commercial airtime to interested parties who will buy extra time for their activities. In the words of the brain behind broadcasting in Ghana, Sir Arnold Hodson also known as the Sunshine Governor “one of the main reasons for introducing the relay service is to bring news, entertainment and music into the homes of all and sundry. This will bring to an end the barriers of isolation and ignorance in the paths of progress and also enable the people of Gold Coast to improve on their very rich cultural music”.
The Corporation has done a lot to better the lot of Ghanaians, a gesture which ought to be reciprocated by them through various support. This is because GBC continues to be the authentic and trusted voice of the nation, it behoves all to pause and reflect on its achievements, challenges and prospects and evaluate how far we have come, and how the generations following should handle its affairs. Kudos to the Board, Management and Staff of GBC. God bless our homeland Ghana.
BY: ABRAHAM DONKOR, A JOURNALIST.