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07.05.2009 General News

Public Service Broadcasting crucial for consolidation of democracy

By gna
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Accra, May 6, GNA – Mr Berifi Apenteng, a Broadcasting Consultant on Wednesday said effective Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) is crucial for the consolidation of democratic culture in the country.

“PSB also holds the key to the country's overall development process in view of its unique role in disseminating information, knowledge and providing a forum for all sections of the society to express their opinion,” Mr Apenteng stated at a stakeholders' dialogue on: “Transforming Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) into a true Public Service”.

The dialogue attended by leading media practitioners and media institutions was organized by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), KAB Governance Consult in collaboration with the GBC with support from the Fredrich Ebert Foundation (FES).

The dialogue was to deliberate on modalities for transforming the national broadcaster - GBC to become a public service broadcaster.

Mr Apenteng, former Managing Director, Graphic Communications Group Limited, who spoke on: “Transforming GBC into a true PSB- the challenges and the way forward,” emphasised the urgent need for high-quality public broadcaster to serve the interest of the people instead of government.

He said the changing media landscape, with over 130 public and private radio stations and about 10 Television channels, it was imperative for the national broadcaster to engage priority attention of policy makers, regulatory bodies and civil society organizations for injection of the needed capital and political will for its transformation.

The Broadcasting Consultant expressed concern about the huge commercialization of the broadcasting environment, stressing; “greater commercialization of the structure and programmes of broadcasting would erode the principles of public broadcasting”.

Mr Apenteng reminded GBC of the tenets of PSB which included universal access, diversity in programming, national and community identity focus and quality programming which should be above the issues of mass audience.

On the mode of funding PSB, the Consultant suggested the country should introduce special tax scheme since a “public broadcaster acquires funds to produce programmes whiles a commercial broadcaster produces programmes to generate funds”.

He also suggested that the Government and the National Media Commission (NMC) should work to develop a policy for broadcasting, which must be backed by legislation and must be in conformity with the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution, especially as it related to the freedom and independence of the media.

“The enabling statutes of GBC should be repealed and replaced by a law that defined the public service broadcasting mandate of the corporation in a comprehensive manner.

Public accountability should be institutionalized by putting in place a formal mechanism to engage the public in GBC's development and challenges, which should be in addition to the annual reports submitted to the NMC.”

Mr William Ampem Darko, Director General of GBC denied the notion that the Corporation was under some form of governmental control, “no government official has ever called me or interfered with the editorial policy directions of the Corporation.

“I don't even have the contact telephone numbers of the government officials”.

Mr Darko identified four cardinal pillars on which PSB stood; clear definition of its owners; its governance structure; programming and funding.

Mr George Sarpong, NMC Executive Secretary urged the state media to exert their authority as the enabling legislations were all in place for the protection of state media houses.

He said: “The sovereign Constitution insolates the state media and other media operators from governmental control…its left for the people to live it, in this world everybody is looking for somebody to control”.

Mr Ransford Tetteh, GJA President emphasised the need to re-structure GBC as a true PSB through sound programming to reflect its role in the socio-economic development of the country.

He said the outcome of the dialogue would be presented to the Vice President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, NMC, and the Ministry of Information for direction.

GNA

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