The GBC is a work in progress with room for improvement
By Kayleen Morgan
The Ghana Broadcasting Commission (GBC) is an example of a well-established public broadcaster which operates effectively. Nana Esi-Parry from the GBC gave insight into the way the Ghanaian broadcaster runs.
Parry explained that four key ingredients are needed to achieve a well-functioning public broadcaster: Universality; diversity; independence and distinctiveness. The aim of the broadcaster according to Parry, is to make sure that everyone gets something from the programming.
A public broadcaster is distinct from a business in the sense that the broadcaster “sees people as citizens before they see them as consumers”, said Parry.
She further explained that the public broadcaster operates as a channel through which citizens gain information which will help them to make informed decisions in society.
Parry explained that the nature of programming at GBC is a hybrid between national and state broadcaster. However, the GBC maintains its independence from government control because of the National Media Commission as well as the National Communications Authority.
The National Media Commission (NMC) is entrenched in the Ghanaian constitution and oversees the selection of executive employees and content regulation. The National Communications Authority (NCA) locates frequencies to national and private broadcasters. According to Parry, this is to make sure that the government does not control the public broadcaster.
“So far, the NMC and NMA have been successful in their efforts in maintaining the independence of the GBC”, says Parry.
Between 1968 and 1992, the GBC was the sole broadcaster in Ghana. After 1992 the broadcasting sphere was liberalized opening space to private broadcasters and enhancing competition.
Parry said that the GBC was criticized by opposition parties as being the mouthpiece of the Government. “Ironically, when opposition wins they use the same platform to get their message across,” said Parry.
Though the broadcaster receives criticism Parry says that it is still the most trusted broadcaster for verifying information. Parry concluded by noting that the GBC is not perfect, it is a work in progress with room for improvement.