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In search of excellence in Nigeria’s electronic

By Tunde Smith
13 December 2009   |   10:00 pm
Nigeria, both the radio and television are still work in progress. Many have argued that the high standards attained immediately after independence, were squandered on the alter of unrestrained proliferation of states which has given rise to multiplication of both private and public ownership of broadcast media.

From less than three channels at independence, the figure has jumped to over a hundred at the last count.

This development, ordinarily, is not a bad thing, however the indiscriminate recruitment of personnel, adding to the necessary compromise of professionalism and ethical standards that have come in its wake has given the.

It is a well-held notion these days that most of the practitioners in our broadcast outfits are mostly half-baked and lacking in quality.

The opportunities for training and re-training on the job are few and far-between, with the result that it is not uncommon nowadays to find practitioners in the industry who have not benefited from any kind of training, for upwards of 10 years.

In a globalized world with rapidly changing technological outcomes, that is a terrible situation to be in.

In Nigeria, this will soon be a thing of the past if the aims and objectives of the International Network for Television and Radio Advancement (INTARA) are achieved.

Established in 2009, the INTARA is an “all Africa oganisation whose mission is the stimulation of original and creative production work, and the encouragement of excellence through education, recognition and leadership in television and radio production.”

It also aims to promote “effective human resource development and training policy as well as quality TV and radio programmes among INTARA members.

The organization, which intends to draw its members from practitioners in the TV and radio industry, as well as students of media studies and related industry practitioners, offers a range of benefits all aimed at taking the broadcast industry to an enviable height.

One of the ways INTARA intends to achieve this is through the provision of a well structured and incremental study facility, which enables eveerybody, involved to work towards its accreditation.

Now, everyone knows how difficult study opportunities are to come by. In Nigeria in , the long years of military rule and the near absence of political stability have made it difficult to ensure steady progress in all areas of national life. For all of the over one hundred broadcast outfits in existence in the country, there are only a few training schools for those already engaged in the industry and those who intend to enter it. In fact, apart from the Federal Radio (FRCN) training schools in Ikoyi and Oshodi, and the television school in Jos, there are hardly any others. And what is the state of these schools anyway?

A recent trainee in the broadcast school at Oshodi informed of poor facilities in the school, to the extent that practical voice training in studios with the microphone was not part of the course.

Can you imagine a broadcaster without requisite voice training! Yet, intending students and practitioners flock to these few schools every year from all the nook and crannies of the country for lack of better alternatives.

The outcome is the unsatisfactory state of professionalism in the broadcast industry. An unsavory manifestation of this shortcoming was on display recently in the wake of the death of music mega star, Michael Jackson and the many controversies that attended it.

One recalls hearing the presenter of a well-followed Lagos-based news review AM radio programme refer glibly to the then just-dead music icon’s children as “so-called children”.

Now, that was both a display of insensitivity and lack of professionalism to boot! The thought of it and the possible effects such comments could have on the listener still makes one shudder to date.

If the truth be told, a lot needs to be done and urgently too, to bring broadcast practice in the country at par with the best practices in the world. For too long now, we have become too comfortable with mediocrity and run-of-the-mill productions, and over concentration on materialism to care about the rot in the industry. INTARA’s birth therefore, cannot but be welcome.

INTARA is committed to teaching the standards of broadcast excellence. These standards are based on “high production values in photography, lighting and audio; the seamless editing of high quality images and sound; strong and engaging writing; and creative storytelling,” as well as excellence in journalistic reporting, reflecting the time-honored value for fairness and accuracy.

It also intends to achieve this through practical workshops and master classes, and general e-learning courses programmed to save costs, but delivering best industry standards.

The interactive courses in studio and field production provided by Ron Whittaker, one of the best hands in the industry, will form a part of the INTARA courses.

Another major contribution to the broadcast industry is the INTARA Television and Radio Festival, which is planned to be a yearly event.

The festival is intended to shape the future of the industry by debating the key issues involved and setting the agenda.

There are currently a few yearly award programmes in the industry, but most of them are primed for patronage and advancing political or pecuniary interests.

The INTARA Nation’s Television Awards and Nation’s Radio Awards intends to be different. Having done a good job of training and updating practitioners, the Awards are projected to be a necessary compliment in the essential task of raising the stakes in the industry by rewarding true excellence and acting as a watchdog for higher values.

In the next few years of its existence, this will become obvious, thinning out the space for present mediocrity and lack of adherence for best professional practices.

The initiative will have a wholesome all-round impact on the broadcast industry on the African continent, especially in Nigeria. It deserves the support of all who have been longing for significant improvement in the industry, and this is what it intends to achieve in the next few years through a rigorous adherence to best global practices in the industry through creative and affordable training programmes.