Unionized staff of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), the state broadcaster, are asking the Government to rescind its planned closure of three of its six channels.
“What the GBC needs is for the government to inject the necessary resources into the state broadcaster, and retool it, rather than asking Management to reduce the channels by half, with some few months ahead of general elections,” Mr Sam Nat-Kevor, the Divisional and Local Union Chairman for GBC, said in Accra.
Addressing workers, who staged a mini-protest after an emergency meeting, Mr Nat-Kevor, Mr Nutor Bibini Nutor, the Secretary to the Union and Mr Mark Agodoa, the Vice Chairman of the Union, urged the workers to remain calm, as management dialogued with the Minister to halt the intended closure.
A directive from the Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, in a letter dated 29th June, 2020, to the Director General to have three of the six channels of the GBC closed within 60 days, attributing the reason to a congestion of Digital terrestrial television (DTT). The directive has been met with resistance among some media houses.
Digital terrestrial television DTTV or DTT, is a technology for terrestrial television in which land-based (terrestrial) television stations broadcast television content by radio waves to televisions in consumers’ residences in a digital format.
Parliament’s Minority Spokesperson on Communications, Mr Sam Nartey George, is querying what the intended consolidation of the channels meant on the grounds of creating more space; and some workers are speculating that the ceded channels would be allocated to private entities.
Following the directive, the GBC management is seeking the intervention of the National Media Commission (NMC) for a reversal of the intended closure of the channels, a move the Communications Minister is reported to have said would not work.
At the meeting, the placard holding angry workers wearing red bands on their arms and head, chanted war songs in protest of the intended closure.
Some of the placards read “Government Retool the State Broadcaster to Deliver,” “GBC Has Men and Women to Operate and Maintain DTT”, “GBC is Fully Funded by the State and Should Be Operated by the GBC for the State”. Mr Nat-Kevor appealed to the NMC to protect the interests of Ghanaians and exercise its constitutional mandate and save the GBC, which he described as the soul of the state.
He appealed to the workers to remain calm and go about their duties while consultations were carried on with the NMC to reverse the decision.
He said “We believe that these moves are subtle moves to privatize the Ghana Broadcasting cooperation, after several attempts over the years,” and added: “if you claim that the DTT platform is full, and you want to create a redundancy, what do you do, infrastructure can be expanded to have more spectrum to occupy.”
Mr Nutor on his part said the workers would continue with the protests until the Minister of Communication rescinds the decision.
He said: “We are saying no. It will not work and we shall challenge this decision at the peril of our lives”.
Meanwhile, Prof Amin Alhassan, the Director General, has said all the six channels serve specific purposes, and thus none can be taken off. In a letter to the NMC, Prof Alhassan explained that all the six channels were dedicated to 24-hours channels, with “specified focus reflecting the mandate of GBC as a State Broadcaster, a Public Service Broadcaster and a Commercial Broadcaster”.