COVID-19, CHILDREN AND THE TELEVISION SPACE

Television (TV) undoubtedly plays a very significant role in the building of every society. It forms part of the mass media and is a major source of information, education and entertainment in our everyday lives.

In Ghana, history has it that TV was first introduced in 1965 by the Nkrumah government in collaboration with Sanyo of Japan, an electronics company, to boost their Ghanaian assembly plant.

The late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, then President, had stressed however, that television should educate citizens for national development rather than merely entertain, or generate profit.

Over the years, the TV landscape has evolved, with satellite TV household penetration on the rise, according to the SES 2019 Satellite Monitor Study.

The leader in global content connectivity solutions, SES, indicates that in Ghana specifically, there are already 4.7 million households being served by satellite – up from 1.7 million households in 2014.

Per the report, currently 70 per cent of Ghanaian TV homes’ preferred TV reception mode is through satellite, while only 30 per cent are still predominantly receiving terrestrial TV.

In an exclusive interview, Mr. Clint Brown – the Vice President of Sales and Market Development for SES Video in Africa – explained that this shift towards satellite TV offers Ghanaians multiple advantages, including cost effectiveness, scalability, universal coverage, superior performance and reliability in TV broadcast.

“In addition to the cost of satellite being independent to the number of receiving sites, the signal can be received anywhere in the satellite footprint, which could cover a whole continent.

Unmatched for broadcasting high-quality picture TV content, satellite also offers fewer points of failure compared to terrestrial networks, and has built-in redundancy to ensure superior reliability over any other network,” he indicated.

The growing digital broadcasting space, which allows access for diverse television channels with lots of programmes to choose from,has also proven to be a major means of information dissemination during the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has kept many people at home.

“Data shows that there has been a 64 per cent increase in consumption of news programming since the start of COVID-19, and this number could rise again as some countries go back into lockdown to contain the spread of the disease,” says Brown.

But the potential of digital broadcasting does not stop at news dissemination.

If there is any sector that has been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the education sector as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reports that more than 90 per cent of the world’s student population have been kept out of the classroom.

In Ghana, the 2019/2020 academic calendar for all pupils from pre-school to Junior High School (JHS) 1 and Senior High School (SHS) 1, has been postponed to January next year, which means that by the time pupils resume school, they would have stayed home for as long as 10 months (which is barely a year since schools closed down in March,2020).

Government, through the state broadcaster (GBC)in partnership with other private broadcasting networks and educational institutions have consequently rolled out virtual learning programmes on TV and online to engage studentsand keep academic work during the period.

Mr. Brown points out that “together with other media partners, SES has also recently launched afree-to-air (FTA) not-for-profit educational TV channel called Joy Learning, to help students keep up with their schoolwork while they are forced to stay home.”

The Joy Learning channel, which was officially launched on 30 December 2019, was part of a corporate social responsibility initiative undertaken by the Multimedia Group (MGL) through its Educare Foundation, in partnership with e-learning platform Wolo TV, service provider K-Net; and SES.

Notwithstanding, the impact of these interventionsis dependent on childrenopting to watch educational TV over variety of entertainment programmes at their disposal while at home.

Unfortunately, no law exists that empowers agencies like the National Media Commission(NMC) which is mandated to register, regulate and monitor the activities of media houses, to censor or media content which leaves much to be desired in these times.

A larger responsibility therefore lies on parents and guardians to be interested in what their children are viewingwhile at home especially, keeping up with academic work such that they are not ‘blank’ by the time school resumes.

It is often said that the home is the first school and parents are the best teachers for a child. As much possible, parents must be keen on providing an environment that can allow children to easily cope with the situational learning.

Broadcasters and content providers, on the other hand, should also do what they can to seize the opportunity as far as promoting societal good is concerned.

“The onus is on every business entity to make sure they are taking all reasonable precautions to prevent exploitation of their platforms as far as possible,” Mr Brown advised.

“At SES, we conduct a thorough due diligence on all our customers before we partner with them, but at the end of the day it is the content provider’s responsibility to check and verify their content.

We work closely with our partners and the relevant authorities to ensure we respect all broadcasting regulations, and I can only hope that other providers do same,” he said.

Dr Clint Brown, Vice President of Sales and Market Development for SES Video in Africa.

Show More
Back to top button