THE Namibian Broadcasting Corporation claims not to have incurred major extra costs apart from additional “man hours” for the live coverage of the weekend’s Swapo Party congress.
The director general of the NBC, Albertus Aochamub, yesterday promised that important events of opposition political parties would also be covered in the same manner, provided it is in the public interest.
“Every event that happens in this country where there is news value, we would cover. It [the Swapo party congress] was nothing special.”
He said the outside broadcast van belongs to the NBC and the staff members who participated are on their payroll. “Did we have to get additional equipment? No. There was no capital outflow except in man hours.”
In March, the NBC changed its tune at the eleventh hour after initially saying it would not cover the Independence Day celebrations at Mariental live on television.
Aochamub then said that the live broadcast was made possible by the government having made additional funds available to rent equipment from a South African company.
Before then he said the initial decision not to broadcast the event live “wasn’t an independent NBC decision. It was taken jointly with the organisers of the event.”
He then said the decision was based on the cost of a live broadcast. “It is not cost justified to spend N$400 000 on one event.”
The NBC’s own outside broadcasting equipment is obsolete and therefore they had to rent equipment from outside the country to do the broadcast, he said then.
“At this stage, it does not make sense to broadcast an event at that cost. The biggest fight which Government has is to fight poverty and N$400 000 for an event that lasts between two and three hours is not fighting poverty,” Aochamub said.
The NBC broadcast ten hours of the Swapo congress live – four hours on Thursday and two hours each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Just last month the NBC complained that it had exhausted its operational budget and said it would not be able to pay salaries and other running expenses after December 1.
It requested a government bailout of between N$40 million and N$50 million to survive until the end of the financial year. The request is under consideration, according to the Ministry of Finance.