The poor state of Akwa Ibom State’s official TV and radio stations had long pissed off the residents and citizens that could afford the available options for quality content/broadcast stations. As the world transited into a digital age, the need for upgrading had been long overdue at Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation; ‘Prophet Godswill’ (as he now chooses to be addressed) came to the rescue, with the new digital radio transmitter for the sake of quality sound production, and audio clarity.

This signified the breaking of a two-decade yoke from the analog transmitter the state official radio station has been using since 1991, as commissioned by His Excellency, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga (FSS,PSC+), then military governor of Akwa Ibom state.

On the day of the commissioning of the new digital transmitter, historic guests were present, the likes of Moses Ekpo- the first Commissioner of Information & Communication in Akwa Ibom, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga was also present at the commissioning and he was full of smiles, so also was Eddie Ekpenyong, the ace broadcaster that was on duty that fateful Saturday, 27th July 1991.

Have you been to Akwa Ibom lately? If yes, then you have an idea of the AKBC I am talking about. If no, I can be sure you have heard a lot about the infrastructural development going on in the state, thanks to the millions of naira churned out to secure good spots on Africa’s Independent Television.

If no again, then you will be disappointed if you discover that, far from the trumpet of development been blown nationwide, there is still a whole lot of work to be done to resuscitate and position the media sector to meet up with the development the state is witnessing, and to catch up with the rest of the world.
 

The floor was set, the people had gathered, the radio and Television stations were broadcasting LIVE, reaching out to approximately 3 million people within and outside the state, but the microphone and sound system was breaking intermittently…What could be so demeaning for an Honourable Commissioner of Information & Communication of an entire state who was delivering a Welcome Address on the occasion of the commissioning of the new AKBC Digital Studio.

Akwa Ibom state Information & Communication Commissioner-Mr. Aniekan Umanah speaking at a function in Uyo

Beyond the acquisition of a digital transmitter for Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation radio by the current administration of the state, a whole lot more is still left to be done if truly the analog-digital migration is to be celebrated. One of such things to be done is this write-up, which is a product of the creative thoughts of a concerned citizen and practitioner in the industry. While celebrating the development, it is wise to note that this presents a new river waiting to be crossed. Time is taken here, to highlight and discuss some succinct facts/points.

CONTENT DEVELOPMENT, QUALITY & PROGRAMMING


We all remember the popular saying; ‘experience is the best teacher’, but I beg to differ in this case, in a generation where innovations unfolds every second, relying on experience of yesteryear might not just be enough for staff of a media house.

In this generation, the Internet can comfortably take the place of experience, as the concept and content of a TV/ Radio broadcast station is fundamental.

The quality of what you see on TV and hear on radio is determined by the quality of the equipment used to capture or transmit the message, hence the acquisition of the digital transmitter for AKBC radio.

Same gesture is expected soon for the newspaper (Pioneer) and the TV station, no matter the concept and creativity deployed, if captured or transmitted/printed by outdated equipments, all efforts put into the research work will not be well presented.

Although without a professional know-how, I understand exactly the technical requirements for standard TV broadcasting, they are Camera, Studio /Set design, Lighting.

Above all, passion for the job is a guaranteed motivator, and is a vital requirement, as personnel with high level of passion for the job will go the extra mile to get things done, employing the best of his/her creativity in the discharge of duty.

Now my question before I close this paragraph; how many of the AKBC staff can actually use a computer and/ or surf the internet?

THE ARRIVAL OF AFFORDABLE CABLE TV DECODERS


How modern are the cameras and an outdoor broadcasting van the Governor boasted of? How conversant are the staffs with the new cameras?

Well, the arrival of affordable TV decoders has also brought down the spirit of the AKBC staff, with some of them even acquiring these decoders for their homes.

The likes of GoTV by DSTV, Star Times by NTA and others have bought the mind of many Nigerians, and citizens in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state are not left behind, not forgetting Internet & Mobile TV, which also reduces the total number of viewers for AKBC and any other broadcasting house without quality content, as they find pleasure in the quality of service and content provided by the TV stations subscribed to, they may never tune to AKBC again, until someone gives them an extra reason to.

STAFF TRAINING & THE CIVIL SERVICE ORIENTATION

How often do the AKBC staffs go for on-the-job trainings? If often, what kind of trainings are we talking about? If any AKBC staff finds him/herself in a media house outside the state or country, will he/she be at par with their counterparts?

The civil service orientation of the AKBC staff needs to be corrected, upgraded and renewed. A media house needs much more than people who are just out to make a living and get their monthly pay.

Before now, the major problem facing the media industry in Akwa Ibom state was that of manpower, and professionalism. As time went on, some practitioners (especially those without prior knowledge/study of the profession) started going back to the four walls of the class room to study and show themselves as an approved workman.

It is advised that on-the-job staff training should be basic and recurring from time to time to help the staff familiarize with new techniques.

THE PRINT MEDIA SECTOR

The print media in Akwa Ibom can pride its self as one of the most vibrant, except for Lagos & Abuja, with well over 40 newspapers and active chapels.

Every week, especially during elections and political seasons, new newspapers spring up from different parts of the state, giving room for just anybody who can afford printing cost.

This makes the war with quacks practising in the state yet to be won by the Joe Effiong led state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists.

The story of Akwa Ibom print media industry will not be complete without mentioning IKPA ISONG EMPIRE, publishers of GLOBAL CONCORD Newspaper, “the most preferred and widely read newspaper in Akwa Ibom”, while many rely on them for unbiased and investigative news reporting, the people in government describe them as ‘opposition’, while other practitioners attack them over ignoring the ethics of the journalism profession in their practice, but the truth is, that’s is the highest selling newspaper.

As at when this write-up was filled, The Pioneer Newspaper, published by Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation cannot boast of a printing press of its own, and this did not get the attention of His Excellency all through his first term in office.

This is so sad. The newspaper has been published in a public press three  times a week, one cannot depend on it for news from around the state, with a manpower comprising of civil servants, I think there is no way their stories will not be biased and one sided. 

The good news now, is that there is light at the end of the tunnel, the Governor stated in his speech at the commissioning of the AKBC transmitter and studio complex, that a GOSS WEB COMPUTER-TO-PLATE PRINTING MACHINE has been acquired for the Newspaper Corporation, and is said to be in transit.

On arrival of the new printing machine, the state-of-the-art printing press, the Governor stated, will also print for other newspapers/magazines in the state, the battle of contents and readership is one to fight to win by the General Manager and Editor in Chief of PIONEER Newspaper.

GOVERNOR AKPABIO’S PROMISE &THE WAY FORWARD

Spreading the message of a new Akwa Ibom is not just the responsibility of the Governor and his Information Commissioner, but a shared responsibility for all indigenes, same with the responsibility of repositioning different sectors, especially media houses, tasked with the sole responsibility of showcasing what the state is made up of.

The expected change begins with me, the author of the write-up, and you reading this piece. The time has come for all and sundry to rise up to responsibility; you will be marvelled at what a tangible thing like your status update on social networking sites can contribute towards building the new Akwa Ibom of our dreams.

Some colleagues asked me; ‘what do you think is the real challenge before AKBC?’, and I asked ‘What do you do to personnel, staff & presenters that have spent 10 to 20 years with AKBC without inspiring, and tutoring the next generation?’

My answer was short, precise and concise ‘LAY THEM OFF’! Yes, lay off old staff due for retirement, so they can make room for other talented and younger personnel that will comfortably adapt to modern trends in media technology.

In the University of Uyo, the federal institution in the state, the Communication Arts department is about the best in the country; little wonder why you find their products in national/leading media houses in Lagos & Abuja.

The number of On-Air-Personalities, Creative and Technical Personnel with Akwa Ibom origin in national/leading media houses is quite a long list that will tickle your fancy.

From Rhythm/Silverbird TV, to TV & Radio Continental, to STAR FM,  or is it AIT, NTA or DSTV, a handful of Akwa Ibom talents are there contributing meaningfully to the quality media content we all appreciate on this national/international platforms, talk less of the fresh talents yet to be discovered, spread around and going unnoticed and untapped. These talents should be brought to bear in the scheme of things in the Akwa Ibom media sector.

Beyond the analog to digital migration, while also educating, informing and entertaining, adequate attention should be given to every detail to be broad casted or published.

Most importantly, the ethics of the journalism profession should be employed and deployed at all times. 

With promises of a new studio complex, on-the-job trainings, and better remuneration packages, Governor ‘Prophet’ Akpabio dreams of an AKBC that will have their staff walking around with their head up high in the near future.

Nelson NseAbasi is a prolific and versatile publicist, media practitioner and entrepreneur
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 234-7087236080


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