Monday, 20 February 2012

The Government must not support unfair competition in the wider world of broadcasting services

The first thing Gerard Teuma did when named CEO designate of GBC was to ask for more staff and money, at taxpayers' expense of course! That is part of the ingrained mentality that exists at GBC, which the King Report confirmed.
Good management is not necessarily about asking for more money - for other people's money - but rather to make the operation sustainable without more public funds being involved. Anyone can manage if he has at his disposal a bottomless pit! If there is a Santa Claus handing out public funds all the year round!

And what is going to be done, as a matter of urgency, about the serious issues which King uncovered? Should they not be addressed before the Government pours a single penny more into GBC, especially when in the past more money and new systems simply did not work. And what the public inherited was a bigger, more expensive and better resourced operation which ironically has been producing less than before!
 We cannot go down that road again. And again.

Not only that but the monopoly that is GBC now wants to make greater inroads into online services - but again at more public expense! And not only that, but by seeking to engage in unfair competition to already established online service which have been operating for years at no public expense.

But while others have to make ends meet, Mr Teuma thinks the public should pay more for less, which is the story of GBC - never mind if there is a world financial crisis which is forecast to get worse and which is already affecting Gibraltar.
  We are now being told that we should not compare GBC with the likes of Sky and the BBC. But they expect to have parity with the BBC!

Said Mr King in his report: "There are inconsistencies in many areas, and a belief within GBC that salaries should be at a par with those paid in regional BBC stations. The problem is that the roles do not directly relate, so there is no exact template on which parity could be based, even if it were desirable."

He adds that "in the UK, broadcasting is a comparatively well paid industry (particularly the commercial television sector) and we believe GBC employees should be appropriately but not excessively remunerated. The process must be entirely fair to both staff and the Corporation."

And fair also to the rest of the community, presumably!
As if telling Mr Teuma, the King report added: "An incoming Chief Executive would have his or her own ideas, but these should take account of pay scales operating in Gibraltar; UK rates cannot simply be transposed."

There is no doubt that there is talent in GBC, but that talent is not being properly harnessed. There are those who think GBC should carry on as it is; and there are others who think that GBC has come to the end of its useful existence, and there is a case to close it down and to replace it by a new, modern  set-up operating under new conditions, with a redundancy package offered to those who do not want it.

When in Britain and elsewhere there existed only the so-called public service broadcaster, the public derived a no-choice situation and less value-for-money broadcasting. Can anyone imagine the UK with only the BBC - without all the other stations that proliferate there!

For example, let GBC have their radio station, but why should all the available radio frequencies be allocated to them? Why cannot at least one other radio station be put out to tender? It is only by having more that the public will be able to compare with the unacceptable services in both TV and radio which currently have to be endured. Why cannot the public have better? Why cannot the public enjoy the benefits that emerge from competition?

What the Government cannot do is embark on pouring money into GBC before carrying out an in-depth review about broadcasting in Gibraltar in a general sense and not in a narrow GBC sense.

It is fine for the Government to try and save money in many of the services now provided, but this concept must also include broadcasting, if they are to be consistent in what they do.

There is a new world out there with the technological advance that has emerged for the benefit of everyone. Online services and why not new broadcasting services using new technology, but without the threat of unfair competition and 'state aid.'

Gibraltar needs diversity in its media if the quality of its much-trumpeted  democracy  is not going to be questioned. We cannot make a mockery of democracy. We cannot promote monopolistic situations in its media. We cannot keep wasting public money in what is already well-proven of not being capable to deliver the quality and variety of the kind of vibrant programming Gibraltar is calling out for.

The Government must not follow the pattern of the past - and put its foot in it as well.

1 comment:

  1. There does seem to be a lot of money being put into GBC with the new premises and digital technology but do the viewing figures warrant this?

    Why aren't they teaming up with Gibtel to provide a full package like the UK with on demand programming, I am sure with our close association to the UK that some deal could be made.

    Will we get more local programs, what happened to the popular quiz? Why not have some form of Takeshi's castle? the Gib Reg could build a fun assault course for different ages and GBC could film a load of episodes during the summer holidays for showing throughout the year, water courses on the beach, Jungle courses up the rock etc. all ages could take part just by modifying the course to suit the age and make some fun cheap programming with something to keep the children occupied through the long summer months.

    I am sure that viewing figures for these kind of programmes, if made well, would be a lot higher than at present which would increase advertising revenues.

    We need to get away from the present showing of cheap programmes just to fill air time, GBC can't compete with satellite channels and can only provide a service if a larger variety of local content is aired.