Gateway Television: Name- Change And Politics Of Envy


Tayo Agunbiade

There has lately been some political talk around the re-branding of Ogun State’s broadcast stations by the Administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel. Prominent in this regard is the piece by Abimbola Awofeso entitled "What manner of change" and carried in a national daily. Before the public is misled by ill-informed commentaries on this matter, it is important that the facts of the case be put in perspective.

On May 13th 1982 when he commissioned the Ogun Television, Chief Olabisi Onabanjo of blessed memory, first civilian Governor of Ogun State, noted that:"the prime goal of the OGTV is to help restore within the areas covered by its transmissions the good image of television service…"

Following in these illustrious footsteps, the administration of Governor Gbenga Daniel recently re-named the State-owned television and radio services from Ogun State Television (OGTV) and Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation (OGBC) to Gateway Television and Gateway Radio respectively.

The re-branding of the State’s media could not have come at a better time when the world is faced with ongoing changes in information management. Gateway Television and Radio are now poised to provide better information service to the people taking into consideration their heterogeneous nature. Governor Daniel could not have put this better when he said: "Our Administration has embarked on re-engineering and re-positioning the State Radio and Television services for improved performance and enhanced relevance through human capacity building and the provision of cutting-edge infrastructure to enable them master the ever-changing and competitive broadcast industry".

Re-branding the state media organisations became a necessity to engender a change in perception in the minds of the people. It is part of Government’s strategy to re-position the State away from the previous notion of being a "civil service" State and exhibit Ogun in a more positive and dynamic light. To be sure all policies reflect this new and exciting position being championed by the Daniel Administration.

The change in name is hardly just for the sake of it. It will be recalled that Ogun State Hotels had its name changed to Gateway Hotels. The change in name has in a sense helped to reinforce the image the Government aims to project for the State and its approach to Governance. As the Gateway State, Ogun has identified itself and its people with a renewed openness and its media organisations are a part of this viable concept.

The Government’s "Business Unusual" stance is highlighted in how it wants the State to be perceived by the outside world. It is a vital component of the vision hence the State’s media organisations have received a new charge which is in line with electronic information services all over the world. This was summed up by Governor Daniel when during the Commissioning of the Gateway Broadcasting House in February 2005 he noted that: "the information explosion that our age has witnessed has made information gathering and transmission easier than two decades ago. Yet these developments call for concerted efforts in the proper use and deployment of vital information for national development and to enhance national security".

The viewing and listening public in Ogun and beyond are now served with well-balanced and lucid information items. "Edutainment" has become a way of serving up positive information to the public. Little wonder that the newly improved television has proved to be a step in the right direction. Since the change, GTV’s rating has moved up and with it renewed interest from the world of advertising has also gone up.

Contrary to recent ill-informed innuendoes in some quarters, the Daniel Administration has in no way moved away from the dream of the founding fathers of television in Ogun State. If anything the Government has sought to build upon the legacy left behind by Awolowo and Onabanjo. While the name of the television station has changed in concordance with Ogun’s new outlook, the guiding principles have been left intact. Chief Onabanjo on that epoch making day in 1982 noted that: "OGTV is being encouraged by my Government to evolve a distinctive character of its own and come out with a choice of programmes appealing to different interests. The station has been mandated to promote the confrontation of tastes and opinions and refrain from treating the public as a bunch of like-minded folks". Undoubtedly these assertions are still very much of current and contemporary relevance and are being observed fully by the State radio and television stations.

Another current and viable trend in the television and radio industry is to make commercialisation a key part of operations. The idea behind the new Broadcasting House is for it to serve as an alternative source of income for the station. This is hardly a new phenomenon as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) makes a good deal of its income from its ventures outside the compulsory TV licence fee. The other side of the coin also shows that the Broadcasting House will capture the social market. The coverage of social events held there by the two stations will also in a sense push up custom. People who use the venue are guaranteed coverage. Naturally advertisers will be encouraged to advertise their products on a station where they are guaranteed wide viewership.

A media village - which was first conceptualised by late Chief Onabanjo - is being made a reality by the State Government. The media village will have dual purposes of serving as the hub for media activities during the 15th National Sports Festival (Gateway Games 2006) and subsequently be converted into staff quarters for media professionals. One of the pet ideas of Onabanjo - who was one of the grandee’s of Nigerian journalism - will not be buried with him.

Finally only the irrational will quarrel with the step by the State Government to place the State Television on the Internet. Where else to advertise Ogun State and her potentials to the world?

The change over in name from Ogun State Television to Gateway Television has given a new identity to the State-owned television which can only but through Ogun into much-deserved limelight. The act of re-branding is a globally recognized phenomenon aimed at breathing new life into a product. These days almost anything may be put through a re-branding process. The benefits are enormous and if Awofeso and his colleagues in AD are in any further doubt they should ask the Britain’s Labour Party!

Agunbiade writes from Abeokuta