AN INEVITABLE.

Regardless of years of denials about subtle and crude ways of control of the press, broadcast in particular the GBC by successive governments from the beginning of colonialism through independence to presently, a bold design to establish an independent broadcasting authority takes a starter in the study by a Committee just appointed by the country’s media watch dog –the National Media Commission (NMC).  In quick summary the remit of the eminent eight persons shall zero at that to ensure there is a functioning Public Broadcaster.  That means an institution which combines vigorous business with public duty pro bono service and professional, meaning not suborned. 

It has been overdue and therefore inevitable development in two senses—a renaissance and life-saving for what we have had since 1935 [Radio] and 1965 [TV].  The GBC in other words is on the edge for overhauling, quite comely.  A most essential issue to ponder consequentially is not really why our “Auntie Sally” deserve this; but how the necessity to revamp her would be achieved theoretically and practically to meet

a running generalpublic hanker for satisfaction; [b] as powerfully- authoritative because there is new investment of trust; and [c] not strategized structurally to be malleableever again as may suit whoever futurely—not a political ‘yo-yo’ again. 

For instance that malefactor has existed through many years; and the fideidefensor had justified the constitutional interpretation-default on the “who pays the Piper” theorem, spurious all the time and apparent incorrigible fugitive-offender because it has run taken for granted to date.Foreboding or doubtful is the brilliance of the undergirds for the new Body would provide pursuant to enabling it stand up robustly fora thoroughly reliable, independent and professional public broadcaster– a kind of cordon sanitaire. Think of it, most of the public wonder if the NMC is seeking a parallel or a suffragan bureaucracy to oversee part of their realm.  That would not be either unheard of or not done deal. 

Problems of constitutional or legal nature might arise under the terms of its authorisation in Chapter 12 of the Constitution.  It should not be an insurmountable hassle.  But any wrangle should be a short shrift.  The else is some politically-cloaked cantankerousness could occur, as long as the endeavour ultimately is loosely minded about freezing out the much-spoken about political interference and or de facto control, irrespective of the Commission once and for all.I would always recall as faithful pointer what former Speaker Peter Ala Adjetey said: “itis too tempting for any government to leave GBC alone.”

In figuring out what next anyone-in situ and in contention alike would scheme ‘ways and means’ to hold some remote control, put in populist football management’s parlance.  Implicitly, GBC is powerful; and the same explains confirming why civilian government and or military junta goes for it to upturn the place as soon after take over or elected.  I imagine and feel that the major cause of the decision of the NMC to take this overdue course is they are neither blind nor deaf about the erosion into denouement of and at the GBC today.  They have become,or must be too acutely aware, despite its own politicisation, unspoken and unadmitted publicly, that the country is over wearied about the GBC’s untenable situation, now glooming deteriorated. 

However, it is one thing appointing and another getting outcomes implemented.  I have heard public concerns about deadline given the Committee—six months.  We are looking at May/June or even July, an extension which the Team can be granted as ought on request.  I would suggestthat the time space is not that worrisomely tight.  The reason is Committee be clever to cut and paste through adoption to adapt from other countries which have IBAs.  I guess the South African and British models contain sufficient modems to align for us.  I should equally advise them against inundating themselves with too many of such as I know clearly see would be rushed on them by busy-body envoys. 

Please advisedly also watch the Trojan Horses per invitations to lunch, dinner and drinks to be surprised with round-tables.  There is a most urgent national duty to perform; and it should not be a job to re-invent the wheel because it is not. But prudence as a caveat, only prompts not shutting out audialterempaterm [taking other view point(s) of view on board].That is its only value but possesses no imprimatur to hold up work.  There is no historical precedent which I know of and I ought, that the NMC or indeed a national institution ipso facto volunteered to morph, albeit perhaps innocently, given the political scenario which circumscribes it similarly as the GBC.

Much remains unknown plainly and or fully yet; but the basic fact is that the NMC conceivably sees several imperatives that the kind of broadcaster is most relevant, intrinsic core in governance here.  The GBC has not become archaic; but the shrewdness in the move to order the second in-depth to refit into the governance fabric is bravery to applaud.  You see, in our world today, as in the old ‘war-war years’, power includes control of turf.  Relative to the intent then, there are emerging two speculations, neither deters the main goal.  At one level, the end will mean ceding terrain.  The bigger deal is cost for the offspring IBAG [Independent Broadcasting Authority—Ghana].

At the other level, the NMC may craft the IBAG as Sub to itself.  There is a clause or two in its mandates which imports that.  But whether or not the NMC opts for that formula the cash to foot it is the palaver.  For a cash-strapped country to get things done right, the exit is to reduce the membership of the Commission [18] to a US-style FCA [Federal Communications Authority] or the Australian correspondent.  In either the juicy relief on the exchequer is that the budgetary arrangements impose subscriptions on the media. 

The stipend that is eked [quite irregularly] to members of the Commission could be transferred to support the scheme.  It may not be adequate but it won’t be like keeping the 20 minus two where in truth and from experience the bulk of the work in the Commission has usually been done by about five-six helping a lean and underpaid Secretariat.Notionally, the switches will be fair play.  Besides the reason for initially hoarding the Commission with the numbers can be dug today from Prophet Ezekiel’s conversation with Papa in the “valley of the bones”. 

Looking ahead to the challenges, I believe the biggest would be purging broadcasting in the country from being synonymous with religion –virtually every broadcast house in a church today.  The original idea for banning church-owned broadcast station was protective—not against theocracy or atheist-dom; but simply that the country would not be swamped by competing sects, sandwich board preachers and counter “prophecies”.

 I know the Roman Catholic Church had brought into the country equipment and a Rev.Fr. to set up a station well in advance of 1992 freeing the airwaves.  A stand-off ensued between the NMC and NCA over who authorises or dispenses frequency to broadcast.  Some settlement came after years of wrangling.  But the quarrel created a watchman vacuum and that enabled surreptitious breach which overran the order into the deluge in which every electronic broadcast institution is swallowed up today in church.

The excuse is the revenue from the fees per broadcast slot between peak and low hours which has damaged professionalism and relevance into under par mediocrity through: [i] broadcast schedules—ad hockery today; and

put off listeners and viewers because they can’t find cohesion to hold them down, a sine qua non in broadcast psychology relative to sustaining your audienceand stand a chance of expanding that through also the quality and depth of your news and programmes.  Interest, currency and credibility are the over-archer.

It is not every news discourse or programme that you can interrupt, some very brusquely; others most annoyingly because or it is as if you are airing for the Advertiser—being totally obligated by money and not content plus the principle of informing accurately, educating, garnering people for constructive purposes [ie national development] and entertaining.  The one great negative upshot of the NMC/NMC working relations “Agreement” does not seem to have worked smoothly.  It was always wobbly because lack of clarity in responsibilities pursuant to each’s own interpretation of their powers and the omni-presence of partisan politics. The “Montie” and Radio Gold, XYZ with others shut downs are poignant references, 2018-19 unresolved. 

A digression may be noted here; but I confess it is deliberate.The subject is GBC but [i] GBC is the mother of all.  That justifies its other respectable title “Auntie Sally;”and [ii] what the enquiry would finally instigate to be installed, would be the manual for all because it will be the standard by which each shall be measured.   What prevails though for now is poor copy-cat of the GBC which appears to have lost its heft.  Instead of labouring over the reasons, it is preferably better to propose to the Committee to take up a hitherto taken-for-granted.  This is training as permanent factor at GBC. 

I shall explain the system up to before 1966 coup: the mundane but a must processing to become a Broadcaster –GBC calibre, was intensive training which took the new entrant rotated through all Departments for a bit under one year before a decision to settle you at one where the hands-on and theoretical are a continuum  The idea is mutually beneficial to the Corporation [retaining the staff into mature and experienced professional assets] and the individual in the sense of fitting everywhere– Programmes, Technical and Administration.That cuts one unseemly, into ‘utility’ resource—mind, hand and voice, and largely pre-empts the leapfrog promotion complaint.The will to learn to improve were insatiable.  The “oldies” were enthused to teach and impart 

The same also made the lines of succession and rising through the ranks plainest to all and blocks the “brought-ins” though there was and would always be a trickle, tolerable because it is not as massively depressive.  I should say there is that morale-booster deficiency, endemic through years to dateat BH.  In light of these and others which I have skirted, I see the job of the Committee as inevitable but gigantean in depth and not necessarily within a time frame.

©Prof nana essilfie-conduah.

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