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The State of the State Broadcaster at 88

The State of the State Broadcaster at 88

By Dr. Nana Sifa Twum

The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, the nation’s state broadcaster, is 88 years old this month. It is a great milestone in the Ghanaian media space.

The 88th anniversary of the nation’s premier media institution brings to the fore the real diagnosis of the institution, by way of its relevance, reputation, prospects, leadership, and challenges.

One of the relevant issues to be looked at during this 88th year and beyond is the State of the State Broadcaster. This is key because it is the exact time for the GBC to tread in a well-defined route of professional and effective broadcasting delivery to the nation as per its primary objective.

GBC over the years enjoyed absolute monopoly within the Ghanaian airwaves until the early 1990s when it was faced with severe competition. Competition, we say, is very good for good reasons. One, it provides avenues for quality and excellent customer delivery, in this case, the production and provision of highly qualitative content for the audience.

The competition GBC faced meant that its audience then had the option to choose either to continue to listen and view its programmes or choose other stations. This was apparent about the importance for GBC because it needed to provide reassurance that it had to win the largest audience share but woefully this was not the case.

88 years on, it is still struggling to keep its head above the waters. This is against the backdrop of huge experienced and professional human capital, gargantuan infrastructure around the country and governmental support the state broadcaster enjoys.

There has rather been substantial audience penetration by the other later stations into the Ghanaian broadcasting arena. For some reason, these stations, according to available statistics, have a larger audience share and provide satisfactory broadcasting, even though not too professional as compared to the GBC, to the cross-section of the Ghanaian listening and viewing population.

So what went wrong? This could be attributed to the following but not limited to governmental interferences, leadership, logistics, funding among many others and quite recently brain drain.

These have been the bane of the GBC, even though successive governments have over the years promised to help the institution grow to become one of the world’s best broadcasting institutions. Government interference, which brings to mind the issue of media ownership and control which in most cases provides avenues for dictatorship and editorial manipulation.

When this happens, GBC would be compelled to dance to the tune of the government and not to inward plan which apparently would lead to the loss of audience but in the broadcasting industry all is about how wide you transmit, how large is your audience, how relevant your content is to your audience and what impart you exert on society.

Governmental interference has also contributed to poor leadership delivery as over the years as many as 15 Director Generals have led the corporation and about seven of these were at post for as little as two years. The question is how effective the best planner can be for just two years considering such a huge institution like the GBC.

GBC is also seen to be lacking behind in the technological age of broadcasting. Equipment appears so absolute and difficult to use. In today’s world of broadcasting, Artificial Intelligence. Generational Shifts, Voice-Controlled Devices, NextGen TV, Technology, Augmented Reality Graphics, Over-The-Top Technology, and Virtual Cloud Technology among others make broadcasting more exciting and viable.

Broadcasting thrives also on social media but until quite recently, GBC was not active on social media. On many occasions, even the GBC tune-in facility would not work and Facebook live streaming was down. Such little mishaps turn the audience away and they may not come back, especially the audience who primarily patronise via the internet.

By and large, the staff of GBC have done very well by working under such difficult conditions.

Ethics, professionalism and courtesy have always been their hallmark.

With only one radio station (Radio ZOY) in 1935, GBC can now boast of 18 FM stations and seven TV stations, across the country with each FM Station now broadcast in a specific local language.

With ingenuity, the role of the state broadcaster has been played very well with important functions that include influencing public opinion, determining the political agenda, providing a link between the government and the people, and positively on society. Not it has not been able to do properly perhaps, is acting as a government watchdog for obvious reasons.

To date, the state broadcaster still has some programmes that are as old as 30 years and over. Talking point, Adult Education among others are very old but educational and inspiring programmes are still aired.

GBC must utilise its huge rich human capital to find means of raising enough income to support its activities. For instance, the renowned GBC Training School could be upgraded to enrol broadcasters to be trained for fees on a larger scale as done by other international broadcasting organisations. This arguably would be a good regular income for the corporation and also help defray most of its accumulated high debt. owned.

Kudos to the management and staff of GBC. Posterity will forever remember you for at least helping to keep this national asset running.

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