Vice President of the Ghana Technology University, Professor Abeku Blankson, has attributed the reluctance of the public towards the payment of TV License Fee to lack of understanding.
The public understanding of TV License policy is crucial to the success of its implementation, Prof Blankson stated this at the Ghana Institute of Journalism Media Dialogue Series, which was held at the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence, in Accra on Tuesday.
The dialogue was on the theme, “If not the TV License Fee, then What? Funding Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and the Future of Public Service Broadcasting in the Highly Commercialized Media Space”.
He said: “It is about whether the public has the understanding for the need to support the public broadcaster and not so much about the amount to be paid”.
The Ghana Technology Vice President, observed that there was the need for authorities at GBC to take note of the fact, that the main reason for a remarkable section of the public being skeptical about the payment of the tax was that they did not see the need, despite the fact that the tax was very necessary.
Prof Blankson said there was the need for the public to be convinced, that the public broadcaster was a national asset and there was the need to sustain it on a collective and nationalistic basis.
He said, “the public should be educated on the fact that GBC is owned by Ghana. If you do not support it with your license fee, you are killing your own resource”.
Prof Blankson said there was the need for GBC to develop innovative ways of making the payment of the tax by the public attractive.
Touching further on funding public service broadcasting, he said there were several institutions that would be willing to partner with GBC, if their stakes in the partnering held good prospects.
He cited the public service broadcasting outlets in advanced countries such as the US, which was about three times in a year, would hold fund-raising events. He said during these events, they would show some of their most viewed programmes.
A Former Director-General of GBC, Mr. William Ampem Darko, said it was urgent to come up with innovative means of funding the public broadcaster. He suggested that between 0.2 and 0.5 per cent of electricity bill payment by the citizenry could go to the public broadcaster.
Mr. Ampem Darko said very soon people would begin to watch television programmes on devices which are not television sets such as lap-tops and mobile phones amongst others, which made innovation in collecting the fee very important. He said a trust could be formed to handle the money, then GBC could come up with a budget to justify the fund.
The former GBC Director-General said “if GBC could also collaborate with independent producers like National Film and Television Institute to enrich their programmes, that could also minimize cost and thus, improve funding and added, GBC should also take good care of its workers.”
Prof Kwamena Kwansah-Aidoo, Rector of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, said whilst private broadcasting was mainly commercial based and paid a lot more attention to what would bring in money, public broadcasting ensured that the society as a whole had its needs addressed, including the needs of those who could not pay to be heard.
He said Ghana, thus, definitely needed a public broadcasting outfit, and there was the need to support such an outfit as much as possible.