June 1, 2015

The Majority Leader in Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin, has kicked against the call for the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to be commercialised.

He said GBC was meant to be in a class of its own as a public broadcaster and, therefore, the state broadcaster would deviate from its mandate if it was made to combine commercialisation with public service.

Mr Bagbin made the call when he delivered the fourth in a series of lectures marking GBC’s 80th anniversary in Accra last Thursday.
Disbursement of funds

He said there was the need for Parliament to come up with legislation that would give GBC some level of independence in the management of its resources.

He said, “I dare say that knowing the voracious appetite of governments for financial resources, GBC’s budget should not be controlled by the Executive.”

Speaking on the topic “Public Service Broadcasting at the Crossroads”, Mr Bagbin explained that among its major functions, the GBC was expected to play a watchdog role without government or private interference.

He said, “It is my understanding that a watchdog loses its voice for barking and canines for biting where it eats from every hand that feeds it. A person with an intention adverse to that of his master could earn his friendship by throwing morsels of meat to it. A watchdog must serve one master; must be fed by only the hand of that master.”

Mr Bagbin further submitted that GBC should be financed by only its master, the public purse, and not the government or the private sector.

He explained that public interest was different from government interest, political interest, party interest and different from private interest.

Mr Bagbin said should the current trend of commercialisation continue, it would bring dire consequences to the corporation as a public service broadcaster.
GBC, property of Ghana

He said GBC should never yield to the temptation of making money at the expense of selflessly serving the development needs of the people.

He said commercialisation could not be GBC’s survival instinct.

Mr Bagbin said, “GBC cannot be any person or group of persons’ property or at their beck and call. It must remain the bona fide property of the good people of Ghana who must resource and finance it.”

He said should GBC allow commercial interests to override service to the people, the corporation would soon reach a point where it would sell news to the highest bidder like some commercial stations did.

Mr Bagbin urged the staff and management of GBC not to worry about commercialisation, adding, “I completely disagree with that line of thought.”

He said Parliament would ensure that there was regular realistic review of television licence fee to generate more resources for the corporation.
Air community programmes

He called for the introduction of more community programmes to educate the public on national issues.

He said currently, the airwaves in Accra in particular had been turned into a situation where every station spoke its own language, leaving the listeners confused.

The Board Chairman of GBC, Mr Richard Kwame Asante, said GBC was developing a five-year strategic plan for its development.

Source: Daily Graphic