Friday, 9 January 2009

Is the GBC boss still at post?

Forgive me, but I am surprised that the Director General of the state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation William Ampem- Darko has not kicked himself out of office yet. I know it’s not a culture that we are used to, but if I were Willie Pee, I’ll not stay a day after January 03, 2008.

Not when his association with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is without a doubt and some actions of his during the political campaigning, not least of them, the packaging of fraudulent & concocted electoral figures and published on the Corporation’s website and what many perceive as a deliberate decision not to provide a live coverage of the Electoral Commission’s declaration of the NDC’s John Atta Mills as winner of the elections.

Never mind the statement released by the GBC management to the effect that they are investigating why the EC declaration was not covered, because, really what they should be telling their viewers and the public is what went wrong and not the establishment of a committee to do that. It is my considered view that you do not need a committee to determine that. If indeed it was a technical difficulty, it should be known within minutes and off course, if someone or people connived to prevent the live feed from getting on air, that should also take just a couple of minutes to find out. After all, we all know that Committees hardly work in Ghana, especially of this type.

And as I have indicated already, that singular act of omission, if we can call it so and other actions of the GBC under Willie Pee’s supervision can and does lend to all kinds of interpretation and Willie Pee should have put together his handing over notes including recommendations on how best to position GBC as a self sustaining business entity and resigned.

The new administration cannot and would not push him out since his appointment was by the National Media Commission. But I am of the view that he knows better. In any case, I do not think that the GBC he met has undergone any tremendous improvement or will see any major changes in direction, management and business propriety if he remains in charge.

Take the case of the GBC website, posting figures that were fraudulently acquired and posted to the effect that the NPP’s Nana Akuffo Addo was leading the polls after collating results from 229 constituencies. How can anybody do that in any serious organisation with structures and clear lines of reporting, supervision and management? It only goes to prove that the Director General of the GBC and his team has failed. If the stories that the fraudulent figures were posted from the Kumasi office of the GBC is anything to go by, then it more than confirms my position that the structures are weak.

My background in broadcasting, and haven been a part of the management team of one of Ghana’s most successful if not the Most Successful radio station, has always convinced me that the GBC is sitting on a gold mine still waiting to be extracted. I was among those who expressed optimism at the appointment of Willie Pee as DG because we were convinced that his background will lead to the establishment of strong structures and implementation of sound business strategies that will bring about changes to GBC’s management style, programming and business operations in a manner that would improve the Corporation’s revenues and make it self sustainable.

Sadly, that has not been the case, and whatever successes if any that has been chalked is reflected more in new vehicles and an award that the DG conferred on himself for a good job done.

GTV’s programming is still so porous, sometimes you want to ask yourself what’s the use of the position of Director of TV and Programme Producers. Watching TV sometimes, unless it is just me, you get the impression that there’s no one in charge because the same mistakes and viewer-annoying spectacles get repeated so often I feel so ashamed that they are now on DStv. My fear is that they’ll be taking the place of Lagos TV on the DStv bouquet because until GTV came, LTV was the only channel that gave you nightmares.

GTV in particular has great revenue potentials once the appropriate business strategies are developed, taking into consideration the public service outlook of the Corporation and which should reflect in its programming. This is achievable and with the right and competent team in place, GTV and for that matter GBC can win itself off government subvention within the shortest possible time. Never mind what any team of English-writing consultants who themselves are interested in long spans to write their recommendations for achieving that in order to garner more dollars for their work.

If the young, relatively inexperienced employees of say Metro TV can make TV viewing exciting and be prepared to hit the road to bring programming that makes the station’s sales efforts less difficult, why not GTV of all stations?

GBC needs restructuring, I mean business restructuring not political restructuring, never mind the fact that some persons perceived to be sympathisers of the then opposition party were kicked out. That restructuring will include Human Resource issues [staff reduction or increment where applicable, intensified job training among others], programming review bearing in mind a clearly targeted demographic and social grouping and the setting of clear operational and sales targets.

The other key issue for GBC would be for the NDC administration to allow the Corporation to run professional while paying attention to their public service roles.

By S. Xoese DOGBE
Stanislav is the Managing Editor of the dailyEXPRESS Newspaper, Ghana’s first and only FREE newspaper (Mondays & Fridays).

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