Awolowo-Dosumu laments absence of visual history

The chairman of the African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, on Tuesday, lamented the absence of video recordings of major events 60 years after the establishment of the first television station in the country.

She also tasked television contents developers in Nigeria to make efforts to improve on the quality of materials being transmitted across the country.

Awolowo-Dosumu said this in her speech titled “60 years of television in Africa: Yesterday, today and tomorrow (A consumer’s perspective) at the 60th-anniversary celebration of the WNTV in Ibadan, held at the conference centre, University of Ibadan.

The former Nigerian envoy, who spoke through the editor, Saturday Tribune, Dr Lasisi Olagunju, noted that with media convergence and digitisation of broadcast equipment, television would continue to be the leading source of news and entertainment to a critical sector of the population.

Speaking at the event organised by the Foundation for Ibadan Television Anniversary Celebration (FITAC) and the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy, she also expressed confidence that the future of television in Nigeria is assured despite the “audacious encroachment and threats from the internet.”

She, however, said with the celebration of 60 years of television in Nigeria, the country should be able to lay its hands-on video records of events in the last 60 years.

She said: “Today, we are celebrating 60 years of television in Africa. But I want to ask, where are the video records of that history?

“Where are the audiovisual archival materials of our region’s history? Where are the video recordings of the news, events and programmes of the various stations, starting, even, with the WNTV launch in October 1959?

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“Where are they?

“The Obafemi Awolọwọ Foundation has in its records a video compendium of a few highlights of the outstanding achievements of the Awo Premiership.

“The Obafemi Awolọwọ Foundation has that short clip of the epochal event of 1959 but where is the fuller version? I would very much like to be reassured that the NTA or the State Information service/ministry has these materials, and others, still.

“What I am saying, in essence, is that we must remember that journalism is history in motion. Going forward, we must keep the records of our activities, indeed history, safe and secure at all times. The future needs a record of all we are doing, including today’s event, to guide it to its own future.”

Awolowo-Dosumu, however, opined that today’s television in Nigeria needed to embark on a soul searching to unravel solutions to some of the problems facing it.

According to her, the road leading to television as a media genre had been a mixture of the bumpy and the smooth, adding that from the decisive step taken by the defunct western region in 1959, the country now has the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) with about 96 stations.

She said as the trend continued, there was the need to ask a few hard questions in order to remain faithful to the core mission of any type of media.

The former Nigerian ambassador to the Netherlands asked: “What is being done to maintain the integrity and quality of the product being transmitted to the public.

“Why does it appear that governments at all levels prefer private television stations instead of their own stations to air their views and publicise their activities?

“Is professionalism in television production and broadcasting in our country today of the high standard that it ought to be?

“How do we bring standards up to a level that would be acceptable to the global audience?”

The chairman of FITAC, Dr Yemi Farounbi, said the celebration was packaged to recount history, saying there could not be today without yesterday.

He said the organisation with other collaborators had to recount history in order to get it right and know how to shape the future.

He, however, noted that there was a need for investment in the training of media practitioners, saying 10 per cent of the annual budget of the WNTV was devoted to staff training.