Magazine article New African

NBC-A Revolution in the Making: The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), the Media Partner of the Nujoma Film Project and the Biggest Donor in Kind on the Gala Night, Is in the Middle of a Revolution to Transform Itself into a Credible Public Broadcaster

Magazine article New African

NBC-A Revolution in the Making: The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), the Media Partner of the Nujoma Film Project and the Biggest Donor in Kind on the Gala Night, Is in the Middle of a Revolution to Transform Itself into a Credible Public Broadcaster

Article excerpt

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) was by an Act of Parliament in 1991 to inform, educate and entertain the people. Its colonial predecessor, the SouthWest African Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC), was thereby dismantled and disposed of into the dustbin of history. Since its inception, the NBC has been faced with several challenges, the main one being how to re-position itself in such a manner that its programming, on both radio and television, reflects the new reality of Namibian independence. Until three years ago, the NBC had achieved mixed results in this regard, especially on television, and it was becoming evident to the Namibian public and government leaders that the NBC needed a complete and total transformation in order to make it relevant to the developmental imperatives of the country.

It was against this background that the current board of directors, which was appointed in May 2000, was given a clear mandate to reorganise and turn the NBC around. Needless to say, this was a monumental task.

One of the first changes to be effected by the board was to reduce the top management, and to flatten the top structure by removing one of the layers of senior management. The most significant change was heralded by the introduction of TV news bulletins in six indigenous languages, for the first time in the history of the country.

As time went on, it became clear that more fundamental and wholesale changes were needed in order to make the NBC dynamic, professional efficient and cost-effective.

Local content on television accounted for less than 30% of programming, including news and current affairs. More than 60% of the operational budget was being spent on salaries, leaving only approximately 40% for other crucial operational expenses. (A more sustainable ratio of salary/operations is 40/60.)

The NBC was evidently top-heavy and over-staffed. Furthermore, all the employees, including the director general did not have any job descriptions. There was no internal control environment, and incorrect budgeting techniques and assumptions were being used. This time last year, the bank overdraft was standing at more than US$1m, and the current liabilities were in excess of US$7m.

In order to address these problems, the board resolved to totally re-organise the NBC, and thus a business plan was formulated in this regard. This plan was endorsed by the government, which also undertook to financially bail out the Corporation on the basis of the plan.

The plan's implementation started this year with the appointment of a new director general and a new executive management team. Voluntary retrenchment packages were offered to the employees as part of the downsizing exercise, and approximately 100 employees took up this offer.

With the new team now in place, the Corporation set out to rectify all the shortcomings mentioned earlier. Job descriptions for all the employees are now in place and a performance management system has also been approved for immediate implementation.

A performance contract has been signed with the director general (CEO), and the executive management will also sign performance contracts. A new remuneration policy is being hammered out and will soon be implemented. …

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