Why Managers of Broadcast Stations need to be licenced by Sammy Ajufo

One of the key recommendations made by the National Guild of Radio Managers to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in the buildup they to the review the current 8th Edition of Nigerian Broadcasting Code is the inclusion of License mapping as a criteria for licence purchase by prospective broadcast licence owners. 

The Licence Mapping concept by the Guild is of two-fold, it proposes that National Broadcasting Commission makes it mandatory forthwith that new broadcast licence applicants (and existing ones at the point of renewal) must present the membership licence of credible, verifiable experienced and bonafide members of a recognized Media/Broadcast Management association alongside the standard license purchase documentation. 

The Guild believes strongly that to effectively promote best practices, it is important that the Federal Government should licence the leadership of broadcast establishments as they do for operators of broadcast stations as is obtained in other professional sectors. The management of a broadcast license is as important (if not more) as obtaining an operators licence.

Furthermore, the Guild proposes that one of the chief qualification criteria for operating as a GM/Head of Station/Station Manager in any broadcasting establishment in Nigeria is that the individual must be sufficiently certified based on the successful completion of the newly created Broadcast Management Professional (CBMP) accreditation. 

And that the CBMP alongside other membership criteria (registration, dues etc) stemming from a NBC recognised body such as the Guild of Radio Managers (Private) are the prerequisites for obtaining an operators licence as a NBC-sanctioned Broadcast Management  Professionals permitted to operate freely within the Industry.

The Certified Broadcast Management Professional certification is to be issued by the National Guild of Radio Managers to it’s members who have satisfactorily undergone courses and knowledge and experience -centered programmes drawn from the proposed Broadcast Management Body of Knowledge (a series of made-to-fit subject areas drawn mostly from Management short courses with inputs and applications in Media and Broadcasting. The Certificate is to renewable every three years.

Certifications and periodic performance reviews of this nature is to be made compulsory for constituent and prospective members.

This innovation by the Guild seeks to to lend our support in the establishment of systems and structures aimed at standardizing Broadcasting from top to bottom and ensure the best and most qualified hands (with the attendant skills, knowledge and capacity) are placed in leadership position in a bid to curtail the myriad of issues faced in the industry. 

By instituting such checks in the system, these measures will help the regulator effectively monitor, supervise and manage processes, resources, manpower, content and policy direction in broadcasting. It’s quite unfortunate however that the industry regulator is now more synonymous with issuing warnings and drafting”love letters” to erring radio stations – entities which in actuality can not be held to account – save for threats of license revocation. 

If the Broadcast Industry as it exists today is to thrive , a well-thought out and strategically comprehensive Action Plan must be put in place by industry stakeholders to ensure Accountability, Effective Regulation and business growth and sustainability. If what exists today in this sector is anything to go by; then there is no assurance of an assured future for the industry at the rate we are going.

There is an urgent need by the stakeholders to pay close attention to the Operations side of things, which is the very epicenter where the wanton ownership high-handedness, maladministration, operational inefficiency and near zero regard for abiding by the Code and Ethics exists, which is brought about mostly from lack of effective , qualified leadership ineptitude, gross incompetence and lack of regard or understanding of laid down procedures and standards 

For far too long, the broadcast industry -especially from the standpoint of private broadcasting have been left to just “wing it”; as there has been – since 1991, no generally accepted Terms of Reference (TOR) unlike for the public broadcast establishments who draw their heritage from the introduction of Broadcasting in the 1930’s when radio first launched in Nigeria,  

The Private sector broadcasting has been somewhat disadvantaged, always having to start up their own, making up the rules as the trudge along – each establishment with its own Broadcast “House Style” but with no set Industry Operational modus operandi. 

This has accounted for the dearth in the sector and has given rise to a multiplicity and a mix match of negative ideologues, draconian and dictatorial rules and powers wielded by anyone in charge at the moment. It goes without saying that the gross discontent, anger, toxicity, mass departure and the myriad of scandalous headlines involving broadcast stations and their operations can at its very heart be traced to ownership, management and leadership in general.

With our suggestion, the Guild seeks to ensure Broadcast Management is indeed a professional field of endeavor in deed and truth, and as is presently obtainable with great success in other sectors such as Medical, Engineering, Legal, Oil and Gas, Finance. The field of Broadcasting and especially broadcast management remains without proper regulation and oversight in operational, manpower performance, output, growth and sustainability. 

And while the NBC consistently search it’s beam lights on defaulters caught breaking the Broadcast Code through utterances, call in shows etc. Yet, in all these realities nothing is said about the qualifications of those who should own licences or the leaders who should oversee it nor the staff who should run it. 

It must however, be said here that despite the fact that the recommendations seem to favour members of our body, it does not in its entirety. Ironically, it increasingly regulates us even more than it does the media outfits. It ensures performance is placed as the primary benchmark for participating in this business, for both professional and the media organisations alike.

But to ensure that – as is obtainable in other professional sectors where applicants who seek licenses to open a business and seek licencing are mandated to attach an up-to-date professional licence of a certified industry management professional. Just as Lawyers must be licenced to open a chamber and pharmacists must do same to obtain a licence to start up a pharmacy. We must also imbibe same.

The National Guild of Radio Managers seeks to place a greater burden of responsibility on professionals who have active affiliations and operational licences with bodies like ours and perhaps any other Professional Media Management Association to ensure the objectives and tenets of the profession is upheld. We urge the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to take active interest in whoever takes the lead in the ownership and management of any existing or new broadcast establishment.

The regulator must evolve and scale up its oversight into a much wider capacity, akin to the role the Central Bank of Nigeria plays in the banking sector. It is high time the stakeholders in the broadcast Industry move for urgent cleansing and standardization irrespective of the profligacy of broadcast establishments currently being witnessed today. 

By adopting these reviews to the issuance and operations of broadcast licences, licencees will seek out and work closely with certified broadcast professionals with proven pedigree, experience and track record, thereby eliminating rancour -prone and toxic business environments. In the same wise, Broadcast Management Professionals themselves will comport themselves professionally, knowing that their actions and performance have a direct link to their continued employment in the industry as well as professional oversight.

With provisions like these solidly in place, the sector is bound to witness a significant and marked improvement, a stronger emphasis on professionalism and the expungement of mediocres. 

The NBC benefits mostly from this as they can hold industry players to account for the health, sustenance and growth of the broadcast establishment, it’s human and material elements and the industry in general. The regulatory body is also assured of the protection of the ethics of the profession, the continuous growth of the business, the protection of the interests of the licencees, the professional and the professional staff as well as the NBC.

Like every foundational issue in society, the bane of the Broadcast Industry is hinged on the absence of ineffective leadership and painful absence of professional performance oversight. It is about time we faced up to the responsibility of repositioning leadership, entrenched standardization, as well as promote knowledge-based management competencies and support business grow in both the short and long term.

Sammy Ajufo is the Chairman of ColorCode Media Group and the Executive Secretary General of the National Guild of Radio Managers (Private)

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