The Director of Legal Services of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) John Kwame Waja, has defended the rationale behind charging the controversial TV licence fee.
Mr Waja has stated that the TV licence will enable GBC to discharge its public interest obligations effectively
He added that the objective of the state broadcaster is not to rush to prosecute television licence defaulters but to ensure that there is a greater understanding of the need to support the corporation.
There is a “need for people to appreciate the issues,” he said.
Mr. Waja said these on a special Breakfast Show edition on GTV that handled the television licence and emerging issues after the Chief Justice issued a statement instituting a special court for the defaulters of television licence.
The special courts are to start sitting on Thursday, January 4, 2018.
He said contrary to the on-going argument that GBC is railroading people to pay an unjustified tax, there is evidence to the contrary that the corporation is serving the interests of a broad range of people.
He added that the money accruing after the collection is not readily available to the Corporation unless they go through a process of request lodged with the Minister of Information. There will have to be justification for the request before funds can be released.
This debunked rumours that already, the funds were being appropriated in one way or the other.
On the issue of GBC raising funds from advertisements and other commercials, Mr Waja says the Corporation has not gone all out on that tangent.
He explained that because of the mandate to cover events that other private stations are not compelled to, “we are careful so we deprive ourselves of what runs into the kitty”.
Contributing to the discussion, the Director of Finance of the Corporation Reverend Ebenezer Botwe reiterated the oft-repeated statement of the Director-General that “there is a need to define who GBC is”.
He said there is some confusion in the discourse because people tend not to appreciate the role of GBC in our present setting.
Reverend Botwe indicated that GBC presently owes ECG to the tune of 16 million Ghana Cedis because the corporation must perform other functions that private stations shy away from. He added that operating the institution is not just about programmes but people must look at such costs too.
He said by mandate, GBC must serve minority interests irrespective of the number that benefits. There is no need to ask how many people are in that minority.
Once performing that role serves our cultural and national aspirations, the corporation must deliver on it.
Reverend Botwe also hoped that there will not be the need to prosecute people as greater understanding of the need to pay is generated by the on-going discussions and debates.
He explained that because of the rush to use the code *488# yesterday when people heard about it, it slowed down for a while but it is still available for easy payment of the television licence.