In July, 2016 at the entrance of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) hanged some red banners. In one of such banners were white-drawn human skulls. Scary; they were!
In another banner, that was draped on a barricade directly to the drive-way of the nation’s broadcasting house, were a three-pointer warning.
“No entry for board members. We would not allow the board to collapse GBC, and we cannot work with the board,” it read.
Our elders say a man does not wander far from where his corn is roasting. So, the aggrieved workers of GBC will not move an inch away from their banners. They chanted and shouted their hearts out.
But, what were their main concerns and to whom exactly were they angry at? These workers blamed their board of directors for mismanaging the affairs of the Corporation.
“Come! I say come,” commanded Nutor Bibini Nutor, a senior journalist with GTV. He was telling me to follow him on a tour through the Corporation.
Once a freelancer, I filed stories for Ghana Television (GTV) and I got the opportunity to roam in almost every corner of the Corporation. Nonetheless, I would follow Bibini.
At the Makeup Room stood bottles and containers of all shapes in front of a glittering mirror. I was told 90% of these makeup kits belonged to the workers there themselves or gifted them by Alloette Cosmetics.
“You see? I told you. GBC has never bought ordinary powder since this board was sworn into office,” said Bibini.
Before going to the makeup room, I was made to take a closer look at a number of studios at the Corporation that have been rented to private media houses. One of such private media houses is Health & Safety TV.
The aggrieved GBC workers say channels belonging to the Corporation including Obonu TV have no studios on their own whereas studios have been rented out.
If I will not be (mis)taken for exaggeration, it took about a handful of the staff at GBC that I did not interview on their demonstration. In all, one issue remains paramount to me that I cannot brush under the carpet.
The GTV newsroom! Here, when I entered, it was as if planned. Reporters had queued to go record their respective scripts. They told me and my cameraman to freely film their plight.
Then, I was shown a printer that sat somewhere in the newsroom. I was told it was rented from IPMC. Moreover, the journalists in the newsroom complained to me about the lack of chairs to sit on to write stories.
The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation is supposed to be our British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). One listens to BBC radio or watches BBC television and sees perfection. Can this be said about ours?
Professionalism cannot be taken away from the staff of GBC. Sadly, however, what ought to make the media outlets within the GBC stand out to compete with international standard is missing.
From old fashioned studio sets (that have loose banners stuck on wooden boards) to paying a deaf ear to technological advancements, our GBC’s story is but a sad one to tell.
So, could the board of directors being accused by the aggrieved workers of GBC be the main reason for the Corporation’s apparent failure?
I have not had the opportunity to meet this board of directors. Nonetheless, at a press conference organised by the workers I asked a humble question.
“What was the state of GBC before the current board of directors was sworn into office?”
The Chairman of the Divisional Union of Public Sector Workers Union of GBC, Michael Allotey responded to my question. That, matters have worsened ‘since this board came into office.’
He, again, accused the board of receiving fat sitting allowances, bills of hotel accommodation and meeting venues to the neglect of the Corporation.
The fly that dances carelessly in front of a spider’s web, old sages say, risks the wrath of the spider’s teeth. I will, therefore, be careful in order not to dance carelessly in front of neither the aggrieved workers nor the board of directors. Why? I have no evidence to accuse the board and the mere fact of what I saw at GBC will not be enough evidence to support the workers.
Whereas I commend the workers for coming out to drum home what worries them, I must say a testimony by an insider [who confided in me] calls for a national dialogue on the woes of GBC.
My insider did not completely rubbish the aggrieved workers’ claims. However, I was told the level of apathy and attitude towards the proverbial ‘government work’ is immensely contributing to GBC’s collapse.
“People come to work at 8am and by 12pm they have closed. This is not just for a day. A normal routine here.
“You kill yourself to do your best to raise the standard of GBC, to win the public’s confidence, and you are told ‘are you a fool? Is the job for your father?’”
I personally will prefer watching Hollywood among other professional movies. But my desire for such does not kill my interest in our Kumawood. My reason is that if we all ran away from that which we say is bad then how do we ever develop it?
In the movie example, you watch it, pin-point the Kumawood and Nigeria’s (among others’) lapses so you offer suggestions for its betterment. And this is my insider’s philosophy too.
This insider will not run away from GBC; the private media is watched and suggestions are offered to the GBC.
Putting the issues of GBC’s board of directors and that of some of the Corporation’s workers side by side, two questions come to mind. Are Ghanaians watching GBC’s ‘drama’? And does it not call for a national dialogue to fine tune the Corporation?
If by owning a television set for personal/commercial use without necessarily watching GTV, and a repairer servicing faulty television sets we are told to pay TV license, then, matters relating to GBC should be everybody’s concern.
Indeed, the GBC recently threatening a shutdown of its stations, over the aforementioned issues, is worrying enough.
If the BBC is able to do spellbinding journalism then we demand similar from GBC. I, therefore, call for a national dialogue on GBC’s drama to apprehend whoever is drawing the state broadcaster back. The National Media Commission (NMC) which appoints the board of directors must not be left out in this dialogue.
The NMC has also been accused of being in bed with GBC’s board of directors and it must be involved in this GBC dialogue to give them the chance to let us hear their true stance rather than the Commission firing missiles of counterattacks on radio stations.
By Solomon Mensah
The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. Opinions expressed are solely his and not that of his media organisation.