Ghana: Don't sell off GBC - Dr Atuguba

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Dr. Raymond Atuguba, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Ghana said last Thursday that to sell the national broadcaster GBC was to sell the potential voices of the Ghanaian and African people to pave the way for their complete oppression by national and global forces. His speech was in response to a debate currently taking place in the country about how best to finance GBC, which like many African state broadcasters, is short of funding.

He said the government of Ghana and the public should be willing to pay 0.5 percent of Value Added Tax to turn GBC into a global media giant such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Voice of America (VOA), Cable News Network (CNN) and Aljazeera. He said the distinguishing difference between GBC and other global media giants must be that the GBC should seek to serve the public interest. Privatisation of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) was not the panacea to the problem of funding Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) in the country.

GBC must reform, yes, but reforming GBC does not mean marketising it:"The fact that the market model is the cheapest, most readily available, and the currently the most dominant, does not mean that it is the proper model for GBC". He said there was overwhelming evidence that the global marketisation of public broadcasting had not been a success story.

Dr. Atuguba also argued that the attempt by GBC to adapt to new circumstances, especially with the explosion of both radio and television stations in the country, the corporation was at risk of destroying its philosophy and the mandate that it was set up for. He said with the fanatical and tense desire by the corporation to meet targets and pay the bills through competition could completely erode the philosophy, orientation, standards, systems, and practice of distinct and socially valuable broadcasting system that public sector broadcasting should be.

Since the alternative to meeting targets and paying bills is more state funding, it is hard to see how public sector broadcasting will not become ever more reliant on Government and thus even less independent than it currently is. But this is a debate that will affect increasingly large numbers of Africa's public broadcasters as they struggle to redefine their role in an increasingly competitive market place.

The lecture was organized by the GBC as part of activities marking the 72nd Anniversary in Accra.

(Accra, Aug. 30, GNA)