The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) was yesterday advised to extend its news hours and coverage and to consider representatives of other religions as guests on their Sunday programmes, as well as limiting the time allocated to religious programmes on that day.
Training of journalists and modern-day news coverage methods are some of the issues discussed at a meeting between President Hage Geingob and the NBC board and management at State House this week.
Geingob praised the public broadcaster for having improved in various programming and news areas, but advised that it might not be viable for NBC to run a 24-hour live news channel. This comes after NBC director general Stanley Similo informed the president about the planned news channel, which will air on the NBC 2 channel.
Even international news channels repeat their news and NBC 2 would be live 24 hours, but “that is not possible,” Geingob opined. “If maybe you can select certain things to be live and others recorded, but live 24 hours is impossible… You can [instead] extend the news time,” he suggested.
Economic advisor to the president Dr John Steytler advised NBC to consider extending the time allocated to current issues it deems relevant. “If something is newsworthy then one should consider lifting the threshold on that two to three minutes coverage,” he said.
“When I look at some of the channels that I follow, they find a way to update you every thirty minutes. I do not think that it is impossible for NBC to update [the viewers] every thirty minutes on the latest news,” said Steytler.
He says this would mean NBC would not have only two scheduled news time slots, as such updates could be broadcast even between leisure and entertainment programmes.
Presidential Affairs Minister Frans Kapofi said he has observed that a lot of time is provided for religious programmes and asked whether there is no other content to fill that space. “Are there no other kinds of religion or are they not asking for the platform?” Kapofi asked.
In response Similo maintained that religion is a sensitive matter and is treated as such at the broadcaster. “We’re aware that Namibia is secular State… but we are also aware that Christianity is the overall predominant religion. [However], we try to balance it well,” he noted.
On news programming and packaging, he said: “We currently have three television channels. Part of the thinking is that we use the three in such a way that they actually make sense. Currently Channel 2 is slightly underutilised and the idea is to make it a news channel. It is an issue linked to cost, but at the core we first need to train our guys,” he said.
Similo explained that once the news channel is up and running reporters would be required to report live from news scenes. “We will no longer send the guys to cover the story and then come back. The idea is that we want to cover it where it is happening and feed it straight into the channels and then allow for the discussions.
“If one story runs, it can run up to ten to twenty minutes, because once you start unpacking with the correct people around then the story will evolve,” he explained.