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20.11.2008 General News

ECG ``TAKES`` GBC OFF AIR… For failing to settle GH¢50,000 indebtedness

By Ernest Kofi Adu & Issaj Alhassan, Kumasi - Ghanaian Chronicle

FOR PAST nine days, residents in the Ashanti Region have witnessed the absence of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation television (GBC) and its local FM station, Garden City Radio, from the airwaves. GBC, which is the state-owned broadcasting station with nationwide coverage, broadcasts news through the radio and TV networks.

For over a week, none of the two has transmitted signals to the region, a situation that is replicated throughout the country, apart from Greater Accra Region, according to Alhaji Amadu Yirisah, Ashanti Regional Director of GBC.

“I am very worried about the situation, because I watch GTV a lot, and its absence from the airwaves is much of a problem. I couldn't have the opportunity to watch the presidential debate because GTV was off,” says 32-year-old Misbahu Bumuo, who is a resident in the city.

According to him, his brothers and sisters in the Upper West and Upper East regions would be worst affected, because they only get signals from Ghana Television (GTV) to keep up with information from the nation's capital, Accra, and elsewhere.

Mr. Misbahu told The Chronicle that he was not sure when this problem would be fixed, and therefore, indicated his support for the sale of state institutions to private investors, who he believed, could manage the better.

“Metro TV and TV3 have not gone off from the airwaves for just three days ever since they began operation, and this makes me more than convinced that such public/state institutions like GBC ought to be sold,” he stressed.

Ms. Yaa Kwankye, Zone II Accounting Officer at the Social Investment Fund (SIF) in Kumasi, was not only worried about the situation, but also had cause to complain about the quality of service and reception of signal to her TV.

“It is sad to receive poor services from GTV after paying TV license fees. When I was not receiving signals for the past one week, I was little suspicious of the development because it is normal with GBC. It can't compare itself with TV stations like Metro and TV 3, in terms of quality of service delivery and reception,” she noted.

A Lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering at Kumasi Polytechnic, Dr. Osei-Wusu Achaw, said it was unfortunate for the nation's broadcasting station to go off air just a few days to the general elections.

“I have always been an admirer of the nation's broadcaster because of the quality of news and fact presentation. Their news is mostly reliable and objective, devoid of exaggerations and sensationalism, and this is a huge disappointment on their part,” he lamented.

The absence of GBC from the airwaves was attributed to satellite problem – it could not transmit signals. As if that was not enough, the corporation also owes the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) a total of GH¢50,000, which has attracted the disconnection of power supply to its transmitting station at Jamasi, in the Sekyere Central District of the Ashanti Region, and Garden City Radio (GCR) in Kumasi, The Chronicle has learnt.

Currently, the local radio station, GCR, cannot transmit radio signals for 24 hours to listeners, because it depends on a generator to power the transmitter and other equipment.

But, the Ashanti Regional Director says the problem will soon be over, since management had taken steps to restore the signals through a collaborative effort with a private satellite operator, DSTV.

He told the paper in a telephone interview that the corporation had finished linking the northern part of the country, and was yet to do it for the people of the Ashanti Region.

On GBC's debt to ECG, Mr. Amadu admitted it, and explained that management had again taken steps to negotiate with the power company, to get power restored to them.

According to him, the corporation owed as much as GH¢12,000 to the ECG at its Jamasi transmitting station alone, while that of GCR was not readily available.

The Ashanti Regional Public Relations Officer of the ECG, Mr. William Boateng, indicated to the paper his company's readiness to settle matters with GBC, should management of the corporation make such move.

According to him, the power supply cut to companies indebted to ECG, was not peculiar to GBC, and for which reason they were prepared to workout things for their mutual benefit, for the sake of business.