Pastor Yiljap Abraham was appointed the General Manger (GM) of the Plateau Radio and Television Corporation (PRTVC) two days after the administration of Governor Jonah David Jang was sworn in. The incumbent administration in Plateau State pride itself as a reformer. In a rare interview, the News Tower was privileged to have the GM unveiled the progress in the area of broadcasting.
Mr. Abraham has been among the pioneer staff of the corporation when it was founded and worked for about 14 years before living to take up a responsibility in the church. He says a lot has changed in his absence and on coming back he had to assess the situation to understand needy areas of the operations of the organization to enable him draw an action plan for reforms.
So far there has been improvement of working conditions. The offices have been made habitable to encourage heads of the different departments to stay around and oversee the activities of their subordinates. Though purchases of equipments have been made by past regimes of the corporation, a large portion of the equipments bought when the station was founded have been maintained with all their shortcomings as a result of wear and tear and the fact that the industry has moved on in terms of equipments needed for excellent broadcasting. Along this line, there has been a computerization of the operations of the organization. Manual and electric typewriters in administrative offices have also been replaced by computers. The issue of staff morale has also not been forgotten in addition to staff training to educate the staff on the operations of the new equipments. The GM says the greatest investment of his organization has been in the area of staff training since the personnel must also be trained in other areas of modern broadcasting. A total of 250 staff of the corporation have been trained in different areas broadcasting.
The corporation has reached a decision that it must have a niche to with it is dedicated. As a result the station has settled on news dissemination as a niche for which they intend to be known. This explains why news feature frequently now on the station whether on the radio or the TV side. This decision was not arbitrarily taken. The decision was actually informed by the fact that the people need to be informed and educated more so that the private stations in Jos are entertainment based.
The PRTVC is also involved in exchange programs with other media organizations to enable it benefit form the cross-breeding of ideas that such exchange offer.
The broadcaster said that foreign radio stations don’t threaten the PRTVC. Rather the PRTVC is challenged by the excellent quality of broadcasting of the stations. According to the GM, the fact that the foreign stations cannot permeate the nooks and crannies of our own locality means that somebody must take up this responsibility. While the foreign media are ahead in global coverage, stations like the PRTVC are ahead in sourcing and diffusion of information about our own locality.
There are a lot of people who felt the PRTVC would have been able to counter the biased reportage of the latest episode of the Jos crisis by the foreign media who so it as a piece of propaganda material. The GM said that no matter what you do, there will always be two sides to a coin. Furthermore, PRTVC operates under the ambits of National Broadcasting Commission’s code which granted a license that gives the corporation the liberty to transmit only within the frontiers of Plateau State. They are thus expected not to use transmitters that go beyond this range. Nevertheless the corporation played a significant role in the restoration of peace and is still doing it through the airing of peace jingles even midway in the course of news programs.
The head of the corporation also underscored the role of presenters in the operation of the corporation. According to him, the presenter is the last man in the production chain. He takes what has been produced and relays it to the rest of the world. He is the salesman of the corporation. If you take a program that has been properly packaged and give it to a lousy presenter, he says, he completely messes it. On the other hand, even if the conception, scripting, production and post-production are not that good, an excellent presenter transforms it into something that is a delight to listen to or watch depending on the arm of the media involved.
In view of the imperativeness of presenters in quality broadcasting, it becomes necessary for them to get regular training. They are also expected to, on their own, work hard to improve their presentation by watching or listening to good presenters in addition to reading widely.
Pastor Abraham agrees that is it normal that when one ages, his manner of doing things also changes. In the case of presenters, people can perceive this in the minor changes that go with their presentation. There however, a limit to such changes the corporation can tolerate, says the GM.
On the issue of program content ownership, Abraham said that presenters could be staff or non-staff. The first category of non-staff are those that present sponsored programs. When they come they do so with the authority and label of the sponsor. The ownership of the program content thus belongs to the sponsor. The second category of non-staff that forms the majority of the presenters in PRTVC do not present packaged programs. They are paid the amount that has been agreed upon in the contract of their engagement for every presentation. The glory of any good presentation by these set of presenters go to the corporation. Where there is a problem, the corporation takes full responsibility and as such the ownership of the content of their presentations belong to the corporation. In that sense, it amounts to an unprofessional conduct for such a presenter to go to another broadcast media to present a program that has become part of the identity of a previous organization. The corporation with be legally justified to challenge such a move.
The GM also gave reasons why 24-hour service will not be possible in the foreseeable future. This is because erratic power situation demands that power generators be used. Though the state government has purchased brand new generators for the corporation, it cost a lot of money to fuel this generators. The fragile equipments will also be overstretched. Though there is a provision for the purchase of new equipments in the 2009 budget, it is not the reason why the corporation should promise 24-hour service. Everything, according to him is driven by principles. The fact that we don’t live the 24-hour culture means that it will make no sense for the corporation to operate anything outside the current eight hours on TV and eighteen hours on radio everyday.