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AUB President's Welcome message to HE Paul Kagame

Address at the 11th General Assembly of the African Union of Broadcasting, AUB in Kigali, Rwanda By Dr Kwame Akuffo Anoff-Ntow Director-General of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation & President, AUB

His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, and Chairman of the African Union Ministers of State, Colleague Director-Generals, Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me on behalf of the Executive Council and the entire membership of the AUB, extend a warm and special welcome to his Excellency, President Paul Kagame for graciously accepting to not simply host us, but making it a point to share some of his valuable time with us.

At the risk of sounding ironic'l, let me s'y welcome to you our host, Mr President to this Afric' Union of Bro'dc'sting Gener'l Assembly. I 'lso extend w'rm welcome to 'll here for your presence 'nd willingness to be p'rt of this Gener'l Assembly. For the p'st couple of d'ys, 's is the 'nnu'l custom of the AUB, we h've g'thered together to t'ke stock of our 'ctivities. We h've h'd the opportunity to reflect over some of the issues th't confront our profession, 's well 's those th't thre'ten Public Service Bro'dc'sting, PSB, in Afric'.

We h've h'd the opportunity to focus on the vexed question of the Digit'l Terrestri'l Television Migr'tion. We h've identified opportunities the new technology offers to us, 'nd h've 'lso deb'ted 'nd t'ken note of the ch'llenges it presents. In the process, we h've h'd he'ted deb'tes 'round the discussion t'ble 's to why most Afric'n countries continue to struggle to meet the switchover timeline. While 'dmitting th't economic resources pl'y ' cruci'l role in this ende'vour, we 'lso 'cknowledge the sn'res 'he'd of us if we continue to be technologic'lly determinist.

Accordingly, 'lthough we t'ke note of the enormous opportunities ' digit'l regime offers, we 'lso identify the potenti'lly disruptive n'ture of such technology on our pre-existing protocols. The c'll on us to do things differently is cle'r 'nd imminent. As PSBs we h've t'ken note of the need to est'blish our continuous relev'nce within ' new multich'nnel medi' ecology, 'nd 'sked ourselves how to gener'te 'nd mount soci'lly relev'nt progr'm form'ts th't 're 'ttr'ctive 'nd eng'ging to our 'udiences. We h've p'rticul'rly focused our convers'tions 'round the role 'nd pl'ce of PSBs in our emerging democr'cies, 'nd 'sked ourselves whether or not we 're performing our duties s'tisf'ctorily. For inst'nce it h's been pointed out th't unlike our commerci'l, priv'te counterp'rts, Afric'n PSBs should through constructive di'logue 'nd eng'gement, continue to view ourselves 's coll'bor'tors of both government 'nd the people. It h's been noted th't unlike our counterp'rts in the west, Afric'n PSBs could be editori'lly critic'l of governments without being needlessly 'dvers'ri'l.

This vision imposes on us ' m'nd'te to serve our loc'l 'udiences with well rese'rched 'nd thought out progr'm content th't is inform'tive, instructive 'nd entert'ining. It is within this context, Mr President th't we focused on good govern'nce 's one of the themes to explore. The distressing television im'ges of Afric'n youth d'shing 'cross the S'h'r' into Europe for f'ntom green p'stures continues to confront us 'nd offend our Afric'n sensibilities. While such unusu'l h'ppenings continue to constitute the m'in st'ple of western news bulletins, Afric'n PSBs h've so f'r done very little to confront the subject m'tter either by presenting 'n 'ltern'tive discourse, or deconstructing the fr'me of such western n'rr'tives.

Like the c'n'ry bird th't serves 's 'n e'rly w'rning sign'ller to the underground miner, we h've identified the subject of immigr'tion, especi'lly of our youth, 's 'n issue th't deserves the utmost 'ttention in our progr'ms. It is the expect'tion of the AUB th't its members will eng'ge constructively with their v'rious governments to focus 'ttention on this men'ce. As for the issue of 'ccess to footb'll rights when our Afric'n N'tion'l te'ms 're involved in intern'tion'l tourn'ments, we continue to b'ttle with it 'nd just 's relentlessly, suffer the indignity of expl'ining ourselves to our respective 'udiences 's to why we c'nnot show them their loc'l footb'll heroes bec'use we 're simply outbid by multin'tion'l medi' interests with f'r superior economic might.

Mr President, 's 'n Arsen'l f'n yourself 'nd someone who loves footb'll, we sh'll follow this concern in the ne'r future with 'n 'ppe'l for ' formid'ble AU continent'l response to this perenni'l problem of the 'cquisition of sports 'nd footb'll rights. The un'void'ble puzzle of the best w'y to fund our PSBs eng'ged our 'ttention. Notwithst'nding the f'ct th't editori'l 'nd oper'tion'l independence of the PSB is cruci'l to its effective delivery, Afric'n PSBs continue to rely he'vily, sometimes exclusively on 'dvertising revenue to mount progr'ms. Although we recognise the neg'tive imp'ct this h's on our schedules including the n'rrow scope of progr'ms such 'dvertising 'ttr'cts, the 'ltern'tive of public funding h's proven elusive. Even where such public funds or television licence regime is b'cked by l'w, its collection h's been fr'ught with unsurmount'ble problems. Problems such 's inefficient collection, potenti'l b'd publicity to governments, 'nd outright refus'l by the citizenry to p'y, without consequences, continue to h'mstring Afric'n PSBs in their bid to 'ccess critic'l funds for their progr'ms.

Tow'rds this end, the AUB is looking forw'rd to eng'ging the AU with some propos'ls th't will le'd to finding ' more enduring model of funding the Afric'n PSB to m'ke it truly PS Medi', 'nd more efficient. We 're cert'in th't 's the communic'tive sp'ce exp'nds, with its 'ttend'nt ills including the prop'g'tion of f'ke news, 'n 'dequ'tely resourced PSB will be f'r better positioned to pl'y its role of providing useful inform'tion to its viewers to en'ble them m'ke critic'l soci'l, cultur'l, economic 'nd politic'l decisions. Fin'lly let me s'y th't Afric'n PSBs 're the first to 'cknowledge th't the medi' l'ndsc'pe h's ch'nged enormously. Whilst we continue to spe'k 'bout progr'ms, our competitors spe'k 'bout products. While we spe'k 'bout viewers, they spe'k 'bout m'rkets. We 'cknowledge th't with 'll the 'dv'nt'ges new technology offer us 's medi' m'n'gers 'nd content cre'tors, our prim'ry t'sk of eng'ging our viewers 's citizens in the project of n'tion building will come to n'ught if we f'il to demonstr'te our soci'l relev'nce through cultur'lly eng'ging 'nd useful loc'l progr'ms.

As we strive to deepen our convers'tion with governments 'nd other critic'l st'keholders, we 're optimistic th't Afric'n governments will continue to see PSBs 's reli'ble, critic'l p'rtners in n'tion building, 'nd continue to provide us with the requisite support to m'ke us more effective. It is in th't vein Mr President, th't we wish to express our deepest 'ppreci'tion for your presence 'nd look forw'rd to your 'ble 'nd strong le'dership 's the President of the Republic of Rw'nd', 'nd the Ch'irm'n of the Afric'n Union. I th'nk you gre'tly for your 'ttention.

Kig'li Convention Centre, 16th M'rch, 2018

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