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General News | May 21, 2004

Malaysians Halt TV Show Over Minister’s View

ALFRED OGBAMEY for GYE NYAME CONCORD

THE MALAYSIAN OWNERS of the Accra-based TV3 pulled the plugs off the 31st edition of its Sunday afternoon programme, “IT'S NOT THE NEWS”, last weekend, Sunday, May 16, 2004, after promos of that edition within the week and instead repeated an old edition.

The reason: Minister of Information, Nana Olege Akomea, had criticised the divestiture of GAMA films on the recorded edition, which dealt with the ailing film and television industry in Ghana.

Gye Nyame Concord gathered last week Friday that the Malaysian-led management of the station also invited the Assistant Manager of GAMA Film Co. into a meeting where they insisted that the 31st edition of the news analysis programme produced by GAMA should be shelved.

This was because the Minister for Information had said on the programme that Ghana did not benefit from the divestiture of GAMA to the Malaysian owners.

The decision by the Malaysians to pull off the 31st edition of the programme was based on a promo of the programme they saw on the station, though they had not seen the fully edited show at the time, deep throat sources at the TV station told this paper.

Sources say they also attempted to compel the Ghanaian Manager of the station to lie to the Minister that the station would not telecast the 31st edition because of a technical hitch. But sources say the Manager vehemently refused to lie, saying “he's been in the industry for close to 40 years and had never doubted the competence of those who worked under him.”

He then furiously walked out of the meeting, sources say.

The Programmes Officer for TV3 was then ordered to pull the promo of the programme off air and to repeat the 30th episode. The 30th edition, which featured World Bank Country Director, Mats Karlson and others, was subsequently shown last Sunday afternoon.

Insiders say the pressures to drop the 31st edition occurred without the knowledge of the producer and other production crew who were busy putting the edition together only to be told upon completion that it would not be aired.

Gye Nyame Concord could not gather by press time what official explanation was given to the Information Minister.

Sources say this was not the first time the programme had received intrusion from the Malaysians.

When PSC-Tema Shipyard workers went on an industrial action and the Minister for Ports and Harbours was interviewed alongside the worker's leader early this year, the Malaysian MD of GAMA/TV3, Mr. Syed Ahmed Zaidi, cut short his leave in Kuala Lumpur and returned to castigate the research team for the programme.

Incidentally, government controls a 30% stake in GAMA.

Interestingly, the Malaysians last year asked Ghana to buy back their share of 70% in GAMA only to back out after realising that could cost them TV3, which they fully own with their minority Ghanaian counterparts. Their fear over TV3 was because of fears that their rental cost could be upped to their detriment by GAMA, which owns the property.

Presently, TV3 rents the property from GAMA and pays its own determined rate. The present agreement allows them to occupy any space on the property at will.

In what Concord sources say amounts to the landlord being moved out of the main premises, there are plans underway to move the staff of GAMA to a consumer shop on the property.

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