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SSBC Seeks To Boost Broadcasts

By Roger Alfred Yoron

 

The South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation is seeking to boost its radio and television broadcasts in the Country.


Chairperson of the SSBC board of directors Professor William Haizaza said an additional transmitter for boosting the radio broadcast has been requested from the government.


“And we suggested to the Minister of Finance [David Deng Athorbei] that if we have a transmitter in Yirol, which could network with the Gumbo station, we could have broadcast [radio] all over South Sudan. And this is very easy to be done.  


It needs not much money, which the government can afford but that’s up to now we are still in the process of following those request,” Haizaza said. “If we cannot improve these infrastructures then we cannot reach the general public, adequately. 

Until now SSBC is not broadcasting countrywide. We were prioritizing on the radio because it is the easiest channel which can be empowered to reach the people. For TV to reach the people it is expensive exercise.”


The SSBC has an overall mandate to provide range of programing for the whole Country that “informs, enlightens, entertains and serves the people of South Sudan, taking into account their ethnic, cultural and religious diversities.” Haizaza however added that the currently SSBC (TV) is analogue terrestrial transmission which can only reach the town of Lainya, effectively and with precision.


Transforming the state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation SSBC from analogue to digital is another challenge, he says. Haizaza said in order for the SSBC to catch up with the rest of the world the challenge of digital migration requires government’s intervention.


“We were hoping that our budget [for financial year 2016/17] should bring in these provisions to answer these questions. But now of course with the situation in which we are, currently the oil is not flowing, it is the only source of revenue... we cannot say now we must have this because that is not realistic,” he said. “And so we are dialoguing with the Minister of information, telecommunications, technology and postal services to connect us with the Minister of finance and to the office of the president so that our problems can be addressed with immediate effect.”


 

SSBC and Peace Agreement

The Agreement on the Resolution on the Conflict in South Sudan ARCSS has provided for reforms and reconstitutions of the SSBC. “….the Executive shall supervise and facilitate the reforms and reconstitutions…paying particular attention to the mandate and appointments, to ensure their independence and accountability,” enshrines Chapter 1 Article 14 sub article 1 of the ARCSS. Earlier, in their submission for consideration during the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review of South Sudan, Human Rights Organization, Article 19 wrote: “We are concerned that the process for appointing and dismissing members of the Board of Directors of SSBC lies with the executive branch, which allows for inappropriate influence over the SSBC by the government. A strong guarantee of independence from the executive branch is one of the key pillars of a democratic public broadcasting law. With this pillar now take away; it is very questionable whether the SSBC will be able to truly deliver on its otherwise well-defined mandate to serve the public rather than the government.” But chairperson Haizaza argues that the South Sudan media laws are just frameworks which will be amended gradually.


“The present three Acts [Media Laws] are just framework. Honestly, they are just framework… as we go along, then we will begin to amend, even the US constitution has been amended now and then. 

So there is no law which is static... the framework gives you the opportunity to start to build the house, the foundation,” he said. The chairperson also defended the membership of a national security officer in the board.


Haziza argued that as a civilian he will not be able to secure a release of SSBC’s journalist in case of an arrest by the security.


“But he [the national security] being in the board, we can discuss the issue, we give him the mandate to go and solve the problem. That is why the presence of the national security is important and critical in solving problem. 


Because we know that our reporters are not well trained and there are bound to be errors in the process...” said the SSBC’s boss.


However, a civil society activist Wodcan Saviour Lazarus disagrees, insisting that involving a security officer as a member compromises the mandate of the board.  


“When we involve the national security, to be also among the corporation, then we compromise with the work of the corporation… this is going beyond what the Act actually stipulated,” Saviour told The Nation Mirror.

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