‘Broadcast industry needs complete overhaul’
For the nation’s broadcast industry to be globally competitive, one of the first female broadcasters in the country, Chief Julie Coker, has stressed the need for total overhaul of the space.
Speaking at the launch of her book, titled, ‘Nigeria Ereyon, Life in The Limelight,’ which held at NTA Victoria Island Lagos, she expressed concern over poor standards in today’s broadcasting space.
According to her, “broadcasters, indeed, broadcasting industry needs an entire overhaul throughout the country, with more emphasis on training and retraining. The Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) should do more in enforcement and monitoring of broadcast ethics, codes, and conduct under the Broadcasting Act.”
She insisted that content is still a bigger “issue in our national television. Content providers need to produce more creative, more engaging contents that can enthrall viewers. As a national public broadcaster, we need to upgrade and modernise our system,” she advised.
In her keynote speech, Chairman/CEO of Nigerian in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, noted that a lot of things have fallen in “Nigeria including our noble broadcasting profession. The challenge is how do we make the professor better; how do the younger ones acquire those skills and training? It’s a challenge that we must see what we can do about. It’s not about speaking British or American English. Aunt Julie spoke beautiful and correct English. We want to bring broadcasting back to the standard that she left it. I want to work with her to help train people who want to go into broadcasting. We also need to challenge ourselves.”
In his view, celebrated flutist, Dr. Tee Mac Omatshola, said in order to change the broadcast narrative, “we need a moral revolution; we need a fight against corruption. We would have a moral revolution when our leaders at the top realise that they have to utilise public funds, properly. It was not like this 20 or 30 years ago.”
Chairman of the event and veteran journalist, Oloye Lekan Alabi, the Ekefa Olubadan alluded to the fallen standards of broadcasting in the country. According to him, “during our time, we rode the best cars, wore the best dresses, salaries were paid on time, there was prospects of promotion and we had training locally and abroad.”
Alabi, who also wrote the book’s foreword, said Julie Coker’s story is comparable to that of her late American friend, Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer in history. “When Ali’s bicycle, a Christmas present from his father, Cassius Clay Snr, was stolen in a public park in Louisville, USA, his hometown, the search for both the bicycle and thief, led the determined future heavyweight boxing champion to his destiny, as the disruption of Julie Coker’s early schooling, not due to her fault though, paved the way to her local, national and universal tear-away broadcasting career, first on radio and later television. Julie Coker’s life history as recounted in the book teaches that with God, doggedness, ability or rather creativity and integrity, we can touch the stars.”
Similarly, Alabi said that the present generation should take a cue from Chief Coker’s status. “They should have role models. We pray that we shall come for her 90th and century birthday in good health,” he said.
Former Controller of News, NTA, Waheed Olagunju, observed that most of the government-owned stations are not able to attract competent professionals but the private-owned stations relatively are able to attract and retain competent professionals.
He identified remuneration, equipment, and working environment as key issues. According to him, “the owners of government-owned stations at national and sub-national levels must work hard to ensure that they are able to compete with the private stations in terms of being able to attract and retain competent professionals.”
Olagunju, former Acting Managing Director of Bank of Industry, added that the broadcast industry is a service industry and the quality of manpower, equipment and condition of service are important.
According to him, “I started my career at NTA in the mid-70s. When I was at the University of Lagos, I used to come to NTA Lagos. I also did my NYSC at NTA and was offered automatic employment, after. I met Aunty Julie Coker in the 70s. We saw her as a role model and she treated us like her children.”
Born in 1940, Julie Coker joined Western Nigeria Television WNTV in 1959. Her journey to limelight began when she won Miss Western Nigeria beauty contest in 1957 and coming second in the Miss Nigeria Beauty contest in 1958.