When I posted “What do you think of the new TV licence fee?” for my followers on social media platform, Twitter, the first comment that was sent to me was from a Brit and this is what she tweeted, “Welcome to our world! Brits have had it for years from the BBC!”
Really? A developed Britain is paying television licence to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) so a developing country like Ghana must also do same and pay television licensing fee to Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC)? What is the logic in comparing the two in the first place?
Television license traces back to 1920s when it was introduced in Britain to help the BBC fund its programmes. BBC was then allowed to do adverts or run commercials on its domestic stations. They are, however, allowed to run commercials on their international channels.
I have not understood the concept and the importance of television licencing fees until now. Growing up, I often saw personnel come around to collect the television licencing fee every now and then.
Whenever they showed up, they were met with stiff opposition. I guess nobody wanted to pay any tax whatsoever, even though we enjoyed watching television. They suddenly stopped showing up.
I do not know what happened but for whatever reasons, these collectors stopped showing up for collections. If I can recollect, I think it has been close to a decade that the collection was stopped. But just a fortnight ago, the Chairman of the National Media Commission(NMC), Mr Kabral Blay-Amihere, announced during a press conference that, the television licence fees is resuming from August.
According to him, the resumption of the collection of the fees is to place GBC on a better financial footing to fulfill its public broadcasting mandate under the 1992 Constitution.
Breakdown of new TV licence fees
The breakdown of the payment of the new television licence fee which resumes in August is such that domestic TV users with one set will pay GH¢36 yearly. Those with more television sets are required to pay GH¢60 every year.
Hotels will have to pay between GH¢2 to GH¢3 a month for a TV set. Television dealers such as repairers are required to pay GH¢5 a month, while retailers and sales outlets would pay GH¢20 a month as TV licence fee.
Sharing of the booty
The proceeds of the new television licencing fee would be shared among some key stakeholders. The state owned GBC gets 72 per cent, 15 per cent goes to the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), 4 per cent to the NMC, 4 per cent to the Media Development Fund, 2 per cent to the Film Fund and the remaining 3 per cent goes in to the management of the fees.
Rolling out of the policy
Ghanaians every now and then are inundated with different taxes and the reintroduction of the television licencing fees is not what most Ghanaians are enthused about. Not at all!
What is even disturbing about the whole roll out is the fact that, not enough education has been given to the general populace of Ghanaians.
The NMC Chairman said a comprehensive sensitisation and publicity campaign had been drawn up by GBC and GIBA to alert and prepare the minds of Ghanaians before its smooth take off.
It has been three weeks since the announcement and the publicity so far is not something that can be described as comprehensive. From my perspective, I think we are rushing the whole roll out thing. I think enough time must be given to prepare the minds of Ghanaians before it becomes effective.
No one watches GBC/GTV!
“How many of us even watch GTV?” asked on Twitter.
Many Ghanaians are not happy with television programming. The state owned GBC/GTV is the worst culprit but rather interestingly, 72 per cent of the television licencing fees is going to them.
Many Ghanaians do not watch the station for obvious reasons, why then should licence fees be paid to them? For what really? These and more are questions being asked by the ordinary Ghanaians and rightly so.
Indeed, payment of the television licence fee is not about which TV station you watch or do not watch. So whether you watch GTV or not, whether one watches TV3 or Metro TV or GhOne TV is not important.
According to the Director-General of GBC, Major Albert Don-Chebe (retd), the TV licence fee is introduced not for watching GTV’s programmes but owning the television.
Yes, the fee is paid because one owes a television set. But then how many Ghanaians are aware of all this? If the message of educating Ghanaians is really sinking in well, such a tweet would not have come about in the first palce.
Collection of TV Licence Fee
“Someone should make a mistake and come to my house to ask for TV licence. He go chop some slaps”, somebody posted on Twitter.
Like the tweet above, certainly I’m not the only one lost on how the new method of collection is going to work. In those days, as I indicated above, personnel go around to collect the fees.
According to Major Albert Don-Chebe (retd), banks, post offices and commissioned agents would be used to collect the television fees. Meanwhile, it has been three weeks since the resumption of the fees was announced yet most Ghanaians still do not know the modalities for collection.
What are GBC and GIBA waiting for before they communicate that to the general public? I believe GBC and GIBA who have been tasked to educate Ghanaians must do their job well before the roll out of the policy.
By Ebenezer Anangfio/Graphic Showbiz