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Opinions Tue, 15 Oct 2019

Citi FM, from revolutionary journalism to Telenovela

A people will always yearn for information that seeks to reveal the unknown, that sheds light on their conditions and that excites their feelings. These three needs underpin the drive for humanity (herein Ghanaians) to seek for media outlets that will satisfy them with such information or programming.

In journalism school therefore, the characterisation of the functions of the media is captured as to Inform, Educate and Entertain. However, a study of our media history shows that merely seeking to inform, educate and entertain is not enough to guarantee you a place in the media space.

So, with the advent of media pluralism, competition for audience (readership, viewership and listenership) has become the order of the day. The quest to break away from the status quo is the consideration for the establishment of media houses. Setting up a media channel to do just as others are doing will not deliver the needed audience, hence a inability to raise revenues to run the organization.

Advertisers demand to place adverts on media platforms that have wider audience in the market. So, whilst particular media houses are flooded with adverts and sponsored programs, others are struggling to have such adverts and sponsorships. Lack of such adverts has therefore led to the collapse or virtual collapse of many newspapers and some radio and TV stations.

You may set up a media house with good facilities and human resources, but fail to attract the necessary advertisement, even though you will Inform, Educate and Entertain your audience. What such media houses failed to identify and grab, is the zeal to create revolutionary contents. Daring to do productions that challenge the current order, or that are smartly different, deeper, more liberal or more conservative, and attention grabbing, than what the market leaders are doing, is what I describe as revolutionary journalism.

This revolutionary spirit and thinking processes is what Kwesi Twum's Kokomlemle guys managed to do in the 90s with Joy FM. They took the wind out of the sail of GBC radio and never looked back. Any other radio station which followed that example remained in the shadows of Joy FM, the pioneers of that revolution.

Then in year 2000, Peace FM followed to revolutionise the entire radio space with Twi broadcasting. This groundbreaking strategy also led to new radio stations trying to follow in the footsteps of the then Achimota Mile 7 guys. Radio Mercury becoming Adom FM quickly cashed in on that huge market and has maintained a strong rivalry since then.

Then in 2004, some young guys under the inspiration of retired Joy FM guys like Samuel Atta Mensah and Fred Chidi, developed revolutionary contents and programming that led to a 'Citi FM' radio platform. They have held their own strongly and is a station of choice for many in the capital today.

Unfortunately, since those guys behind the Adabraka Police Station cemented their place in the industry, no other radio station has been able to champion another revolution, except to walk in the shadows.

This then brings me to the main concern I have for which I decided to write, after seeing an announcement that Citi TV too will be showing a Mexican soap opera. Yes. Citi TV broadcasting a telenovela. I couldn't believe it.

That Citi, with young guys who, every morning, speak passionately about what is great and wrong about us as a people and our country, and who suggest ways and means we can turn the page, is now about to serve TV audience with Mexican TV series junk. Many friends who saw the announcement on social media were equally shocked and disappointed.

This decision by the guys at Citi TV equally points to the fact that the station is getting close to a point of nothing new or they're already there: stack in ideas. This development therefore means, there is a big opportunity for a media house to think revolutionary and take a chunk of that TV market.

The announcement by Citi TV reminds me of a confused state broadcaster, GTV, advertising their Telenovelas, soon after their 7pm news. Disaster.

I wish to remind Citi TV that these are the mistakes that GTV did and paid dearly for it.

If there is anything to look up to, explore yourselves on the part of documentaries on our history, our exploits as a people, our new discoveries or business opportunities, etc. and take feedback from viewers during such programs.

The history of Telenovela on our prime time TV started with "Acapulco Bay" and "La Usupadora" on TV3, which Metro TV's "The Bold and the Beautiful", an American soap opera, couldn't compete largely because of the the fashionable costume and emotional story lines of the Telenovelas. After these two success stories, the Telenovelas that continued on TV station no longer grabbed national attention, until UTV came to the scene and introduced Twi Speaking Telenovelas. This move once again, swept that segment of the market, and Adom TV quickly reorganised and hit the screens with another Twi speaking soap opera (this time from Bollywood). The two Twi speaking stations have therefore had to struggle it out for the last six years and more, a competition between Mexico and India film industries. Fact is, viewership has since dropped considerably.

So, Citi FM seeking to compete in the telecast of English speaking Telenovelas, once again, will only succeed in reducing viewership on their network of discerning audience.

In my view, the crew at Citi are too deep in knowledge and capacity to fall for the Telenovela nonsense. I hope the condemnation you got under your official Facebook post when you made the announcement last week, will be enough a lesson for you (even though SamMens said the other time on Vivian Kai Lokko's show, that he doesn't care about social media feedback). Shocking isn't it? Especially when his own interview with that UGCC and anti-Nkrumah supporter, has gotten more reviews and mileage on social media than anywhere else he could think of.

Citi represents a large chunk of the conscience of this generation. It is station to wake up to for sincere national development discussions. For that matter, somebody should be bold to tell SamMens the truth, that Social media is a global and national revolution.

Citi FM/TV was a Ghanaian revolution but now heading towards Mexico.

Enough.

I will be back.

Columnist: Benjamin Essuman