It is said that, laws are made for men, not men for law.
I was moved by Dr. Charles Wereko Brobby, to write this article in solidarity with him and millions of Ghanaians out there, who do not see the rational for the reintroduction of the TV Licence Fees.
His attempt to place an injunction on the country’s broadcaster, Ghana Television (GTV) from going ahead with the collection of the TV Licence, was thrown out.
What happened in the court was the law, but can we apply common sense here and look at the issues from a layman’s point of view.
As a newspaper, established not too long ago, we do not get any support from anywhere, although we have been branded as surrogate for the government, as well as rented press, we have been able to manage to stay afloat, pay workers, pay for printing and we are still in business.
This story is one that many media houses, especially the newspapers, will relate to. Our story is pathetic, we beg for adverts, press releases that are supposed to be paid for, we do for free, I cannot go into the nitty gritty of the frustrations we go through every week, just to be on the newsstand, as that, will mean washing our dirty linen in public.
The biggest media house in this country is the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation; it has presence in all the ten regions of the country, where as other private media houses are being restricted within a certain radius, GTV, is allow to go everywhere, provided they are people there and they have access to electricity.
Before Radio Eye, which unfortunately was promoted by Dr. Wereko Brobby, decided to broadcast without obtaining the license to do so, the only broadcast media house, we know is the GBC. A lot of water went under the bridge, before government upon persistent pressure liberalized the media landscape, allowing for private participation.
During the days, when GBC, had the monopoly, it was only fair and proper for it’s to collect TV Licence Fees, because of factors such as the lack of competition that had existed in many of our economic sectors.
With the liberalization of the media landscape, as well as the liberalization of our economy, it was no longer tenable for GBC to still be collecting TV Licence. The collection was put on ice, and for some inexplicable reasons, GTV decided to bring it back, with some additions, in terms of how the monies collected, was going to be shared.
This aberration and abomination was what motivated Dr. Wereko Brobby to proceed to court, which is the arbiter to prevent GBC from going ahead with its intended plan, which was to commence on August 1, 2015.
The Court presided over by R.R Batu, disagreed with Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby and upheld the plea of the GBC.
Here is my concern.
We have become a country of lazy people, who are only after the low hanging fruits to solve our problems. GBC, is a sleeping giants, which need not depend on government in order to pay its staff and must not collect TV Licence in order to survive in the increasing competitive media environment.
Every company, individual, seeking to advertise, giving the options of choosing a media house, will choose GBC, because of its reach.
Among the things an advertiser considers in choosing a media house to carry its advert is, how many eyes will see the advert and how many ears will hear the advert.
The decision will not be far fetch and GBC is everywhere. GBC radio and Ghana Television covers every corner of this country. Over the years, it is the various governments that have made most of our state institutions lazy and that is what is breeding this type of behavior. How on earth should staff of GBC be paid from the consolidate fund, why won’t we borrow to execute most of our project.
A company like GBC, should be wean off government payroll, if private Television stations like Metro TV, TV3 and even TV Africa, which has no mission is able to rake in money through adverts to pay its staff and pay taxes to the government, why not GTV.
We are all part of the problem, but nobody wants to be part of the solution, the solution is simple, GBC, must become competitive, to do so, they must approach the work with a high level of professionalism. How many people are in the employment of GBC, who have no work schedule? I bet the number will run into hundreds.
By the court ruling and giving GBC the green light to start collecting the TV Licence Fees, the state broadcaster, has taking a turn for the worst.
I wish they were something all well-meaning Ghanaians could do to scuttle the collection, it is not fair and it is certainly not in the interest of Ghanaians.
I admire the courage displayed by Dr. Charles Wereko Brobby, for initiating the court process, although he did not achieve the desired results.
Now Our Courts
Often times, their decisions fly in the face of the wishes and aspirations of the people. Our Judges are supposed to be the conscious of the society and so anytime they get something wrong, not regarding the law, it goes a long way to erode the confidence the people have in them.
A house is built in the middle of the road, city authorities, or concern citizens decide to take the matter to court, the court will rule in favour of the respondent, because he has the legal documents to put up a building there. The Judge, will not visit the site of the building to see the inconvenience the building is causing to other residents and the fact that it is derailing development or preventing government from extending facilities to the area.
In interpreting the law, the welfare of the people must be taking into consideration, giving the go ahead for GBC to go ahead with the collection of the TV Licence Fees, has the Judge considered the living conditions of Ghanaians, do they have the wherewithal to pay, and to think that some Ghanaians are even blaming the John Mahama government of being behind the intended collection of TV Licence.
Has anybody taken the time to audit the books of GBC to see how much money is out there, not being collected, or how the monies collected through adverts are applied, before we seek to give them more? The cow is already fat and we are feeding it more grass to be lazier, when will we use our heads small.
What programmes does GTV shows to warrant this TV Licence fees.