The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) And The Rest Of Us

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I want to welcome all to this third submission in the series which I believe all stakeholders, familiar with this column must have been yearning to objectively study and assess.

It is noteworthy at this point in time to stress the basic objective of the National Broadcasting code which is to nurture freedom and responsibility, in strict observance of professionalism.”

The various advantages of having more privately owned broadcasting stations have been stated to include competition in terms of professionals’ salaries, various remunerations and welfare but as things are now, how do we identify the real professionals on one hand before we even grabble with the financial implications involved.

WHO ARE THE BROADCAST PROFESSIONALS?

Broadcasting organizations are run by certain departments which are common to them all. However there could be individual organizations’ modifications for administrative convenience.

These are:

  1. The Programmes Department; Where we have the producers and presenters and the allies like audio or Soundmen hitherto referred to as Studio Managers and in Television houses, the Cameramen, Lighting Men, Graphic Artists, Transmission Directors and some others.
  2. NEWS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS
    This is concerned with the production of news and current affairs programmers, Reporters, News Editions, Newscasters; News Producers are involved in this.
  3. ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT
    As the name implies this is where all Technical and Engineering works go on. Here we have the Technician, Engineers including all those concerned with the management of the transmitters, various machines and items of equipment, vehicles, electricity generators, cameras and other technical works.

Other departments like the administrative and commercial are also included but we want to stress the emphasis on the three aforementioned for the purpose of this write-up.

By Nigerian standard these days, professionals in the electronic media must have passed through a tertiary institution with relevant degrees or diplomas as the case may be, usually in the field of Mass Communications, Broadcasting Engineering, or other disciplines. Subsequent on the job training are given to the qualified ones. In the past when the basic secondary school education was the minimum requirement equipment, the voice test was an important yardstick.

Having gone through a list of those involved in broadcasting activities, and those we can refer to as professionals, we can now submit with all emphasis that as quack doctors could be responsible for undue deaths of patients, so quack broadcasters are responsible for the dearth in quality of programmes being dished out by our various Radio and Television stations be they state or privately owned.

How many of our producers and presenters have subjected themselves to rigorous training? Specialized training institutes are almost begging people to come for admission. What is the annual enrolment of prospective students into the; NTA College, Jos, affiliated to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, The International Institute of Journalism (IIJ) Abuja, an affiliate of University of Maiduguri and Akwo Ibom State University, The Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) Ogba Lagos, now churning out qualified graduates, not forgetting the FRCN Training School, Shogunle, Lagos which has been upgraded to a recognized Monothecnic, and standard online courses such as offered by this medium. As vibrant as these institutions are, few prospective students seek admission into them.

What we have now is direct “apprenticeship” under a “presenter”, who collects undue money for the so called training. It is sad note that even the “known presenters” themselves need to undergo some training. Most of them could be described as “Sham”, giving out in a way what they don’t have.

NBC-Prof-Amstrong-Idachaba
Prof. Amstrong Idachaba

This is an outright departure from one of the responsibilities of the National Broadcasting Commission which is “Setting Standards through the National Broadcasting Code on acceptable content and quality of programme and non-programme materials broadcast in Nigeria.”

Now with the hundreds of FM Radio Stations. In the country, Nigeria cannot boast of real qualified Broadcast Engineers to man even one in a hundred of these stations. In the place of qualified engineers, all we can boast of are “Trial and Error Engineers and “cut and join technicians” a far cry from another responsibility of “Approving transmitten power, location or stations, areas of coverage and types of broadcasting equipment to be used”.

Where are the professionals when friends, relatives, fellow politicians, colleagues, and other people who have no flair for broadcasting and drafted to do a job they don’t have any knowledge about under the guise of employment strategy. This is a Nigerian factor; the commission needs to look into, as many of these stations are dying untimely deaths due to professional deficiency.

This is sad and it gives credence to one other basic disadvantage in the advent of privately owned radio and television stations which include:

  1. Undue competitions among broadcasting stations in terms of; staffing, programming style, sponsorship and coverage area.
  2. Lack of professional competence to handle News and Programme in order to “steal” audience
  3. Salaries and wages are arbitrary and most of the packages (where they exist) are not commensurate. This is a negative trend, serving to discourage the real professionals.

“To be or not to be, that is the question” this is what should be boldly written on our mind of minds as far as ‘BROADCASTING’ is concerned in Nigeria so as not to pretend to be living while being certified “clinically dead”.

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