Last week Sunday, a syndicated What-Do-You-Know competition by my College sent me to the home of the national broadcaster – Ghana Broadcasting Corporation in Kanda. As the team made its way from the gate through the very expansive compound of GBC, we kept wondering how such a prized national asset could be allowed to go that route of abandonment. As we moved from the main gate towards the Marketing Department area, one of us remarked, ‘You wait till we get towards the Television Department area then you’d see how low GBC infrastructure has sunk’. Indeed, we got there and the testimony was not good, our national broadcaster is a pale shadow of itself. The Workshops are crying for help, the physical buildings are falling apart and yet from these same infrastructure spring a 24-hour broadcasting network all year round doing public service to mother Ghana. Yet a few metres from the entrance to GTV is this very well-kept plaque on the wall boldly constantly reminding passersby of how the Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had inaugurated Ghana Television on 31stJuly 1965.
Well, we had our programme aired and on way back towards the gate, we continued our discussion of how the saga of TV licenses could greatly help ameliorate the plight of GBC as our only public service broadcaster. In the absence of that, we were still confident that there was a lot that the GBC management could do to set the corporation on the path of accelerated development. They have a whole Engineering School which is bigger than some of our private universities with very qualified engineering staff. Why couldn’t they register it as a subsidiary and push for its accreditation to have it upgraded into a University college undertaking broadcast engineering and allied programmes. Why, can they not do same with their canteen which is in the heart of an increasingly springing business centre? Examples abound as to how GBC could easily re-discover itself? But will they? Will its systems, staff and management allow same?
A small clinic sited just in front of the GBC gates inherited by Mr. William Ampem-Darko as Director General was to be expanded into a kind of Poly Clinic. He thus began an expansion of the facility. Unfortunately, his removal a few years down the line brought a complete shit in the business decision. Under the tenure of Ing. Eva Merley Lokko as Director General, a very obsolete GBC Club House across the Flagstaff House was given a boost as a social centre hosting various outdoor activities, some of which were aired live on GTV. The end of her reign brought the clubhouse into desolation until the assumption of the current government which also designated the entire area ‘security zone’ and thereby making the haven unpopular for regular commercial use. GBC is the single largest broadcasting unit in Ghana, having owned broadcasting facilities across all regional capitals. Yet we see what we see on our screens!
Over the last weekend, I literally spent quite a bit of my time Sunday afternoon through to the evening at home. Out of boredom, I chose to check up what was airing on the national broadcaster, Ghana Television (GTV). It was by default but it was good I did.
I noticed a few things with our national broadcaster. They have kept most of the trappings of their programming inspite of the stiff competition they are getting from the various private television stations (analogue) and digital channels. Truthfully until now, I only switched to GTV for live coverage on special occasions such as Inauguration of a President, Opening of Parliament, Independence Parade, Farmers’ Day Celebrations, etc. Once those programmes ended, I switched back to my new-found channels where lots of sports and current issues are discussed into detail and seriously, I had loved these to the hitherto traditional programming of GTV.
Over the eight or so hours that I watched GTV yesterday however, I noticed that they still had some very educative programmes. I watched one political documentary and listened to Dr. Otabil’s ‘Living Word’. I also watched a very detailed evening news as well as the ever-green Talking Point hosted by J.O.T. Agyeman which discussed ‘The Year of Return’ with a solid panel which included the Director of the Ghana Tourist Board and the best historian around (in my view), Kwaku Darko Ankrah.
Just when I thought I had had enough for a day, I was caught by the ever-popular signature tune of OBRA which got me glued for another hour. The storyline was good and the drama was devoid of the sort of things you will not want to watch a movie with children. It felt very good watching the drama for the night with my wife, children and my mother together. As we all watched, I kept wondering how far back we had gone in our quest to keep our country on the path of good morals, ethics, etc.
With the OBRA drama series ended, the station aired quite a number of cartoon advertorials that bordered on public service. These were on corruption, malaria, cleanliness, etc and my children in particular could relate to them and actually enjoyed them. As the family watched these cartoons syndicated by the Ministry of Information, I wondered why the Ministry had chosen to flood these very educative advertorials on only the public broadcaster. I have been watching quite a number of our television channels and I’m yet to see any of these being shown on those networks. I do not think that any of those networks would have insisted on the payments before airing them.
All through the eight hours of watching GTV yesterday, they did not waste time to intermittently remind viewers that the national broadcaster was eighty-four years old and that it was organizing a lecture to re-appraise the establishment, progress and direction of the service. So how else would have known all this, if I had not tuned to GTV that evening, I asked myself?
The time spent in watching GTV yesterday was truly worthwhile and trust me, the entire family will watch GTV again next Sunday. To you, my dear friend, I would encourage you to spare some time and tune in to GTV for some of their programmes.
Juxtaposing what I observed last week with what I watched the national broadcaster yesterday, I am left in no doubt that GBC can indeed be resurrected if all those who have a role to play (Ministry of Information, National Media Commission, GBC management and staff and the Ghanaian public) genuinely join hands together to assist it to re-discover itself. Trust me, you’d not regret the try! Happy 84thAnniversary GBC, but please help us to help you!
My dear friend,