What started off as a meek start off in 1085 is not emerging out to be a strong presence in Cameroon. Yes we are talking about the Idiot Box here and the makeover it has got itself in the span of twenty five years which can be more or less called as the history of television in Cameroon.
In spite of the territorial coverage still being a tad less the progress has been quite good, However there is still much more to be achieved when it is compared to the tremendous strides that television broadcasting has made by many of its African counterparts.
When you jog down the memory lane you would be surprised to find that the picture of the not so smooth start up of the first name and still the oldest in the television business in Cameroon which is the government run CTV (Cameroon Television) is still vivid in the minds of every Cameroonian.
The history of Television in the country predominantly can be categorized into three stages namely the throttling kick off of CTV as a” unit” in march 1985, its conversion into an office followed by the massive set up which is called today as CRTV.
There was no one to compete and the state owned television giant was very much a monopoly till the time the President of the Republic decided to liberalize the Television business opening up the prospect of private players moving into the television broadcasting business.
The decision followed a huge boom in the television segment and also a relatively strong impact on the people of the country.
Most Cameroonians would get nostalgic about the beginning of Television broadcasting in the country. Between the fifteen years that spanned from1985 to 2000 the state owned television network had been a solo player in the business in Cameroon. Ardent fans of the Idiot box would sit for long hours almost turning themselves into couch potatoes to watch the programs that CRTV aired for hours together.
Eric Chinje, Akwanka Joe Ndifor, Charles Ndongo, Denise Epote, Julius Wamey, Willy Niba and Njovens Ben Berka used to be the topics of discussion and the apple of the eye of every Cameroonian. Most people were still wonder struck and could not believe what the televisions were showing them right in front of their own eyes.
You had to rush to get a choice seat in front of the neighborhood TV screen because there was always a huge crown in front of the gadget. Teenagers in anticipation of catching their favorite programs were known to leave their homes and ignore day to day activities including studies.
People would somehow manage to get a glimpse of their favorite shows even if it meant that they had to look at it through their neighbor’s window panes. The popular programs were also different and entertaining such as “Minute by minute” , “Province à la une”, “Dynasty” or “Isaura”
People were just after the State TV and institutional news always occupied center stage in the broadcasts. Politicians and social organizations were willing to go to any lengths to get themselves seem on television and to have their operations followed. There is a very amusing story related to the television in Cameroon that if the TV crew did not get to the venue on time the entire program would be repeated just so that it could be aired on television.
However all these activities that the televisions was involved in was centered mostly in Cameroon’s major cities like Yaounde, Douala, Bafoussam, Buea, Garoua and Ngaoundere. The rural population could only have glances of TV when they came into the cities.
Once the television sector was liberalized in 2000 with a decision from the President to permit private ownership, the TV in itself got itself a massive makeover. The first to emerge were Canal 2 and STV who initially used their cameras just to get pictures of the beautiful landscape of Cameroon. The views were so enthralling that they did not even need a commentary to keep the viewer engrossed.
There was also a migration from elitism to popularism. Gone were the days when the TV camera was seen only at political and elite gatherings.
More and more of the local communities started involving TV and used the facility to express themselves.
With time more and more new names popped up and the list just grew with Equinoxe, DBS, LTM and so on. Cable distributors also took h best advantage of the situation bringing in over 70 channels into the country like CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, TFI, CFI, France 24, NTA, etc.
But there is still one major block to overcome- territorial coverage. Although TV has created a long lasting impact in most sectors like fashion, culture, politics, business, sports and has been able to really influence the psyche, territorial coverage is still lagging behind what is actually required.
The TV signal is still very weak in the borders and this has been a cause of a lot of heated debates in the circles that discuss development issues. Politicians in the opposition and the ruling party use this as their prized weapons when it comes to gaining personal ends and for political negotiations. And this has found to work out to their best advantage many times.
The youth have used it as a weapon to indicate that there is still a very wide gap between the urban and rural in the country. And the general public seems to feel that the government has just chosen to ignore these areas and feel deprived of a major tool which if used well could be deployed to untie the nation and to uphold its spirit.
If areas in Idenau, Akwaya, Bakassi, Lebialem, Ndian and Kupe Muanenguba have been itching for better coverage and more clear signals, it is being proven again and again that the better the TV coverage is the more bliss and peace and development the people in the regions enjoy. This is indicative of the fact that the television is playing an important role in the upliftment of the people and in keeping them in tune with the changing times.
The poor availability of national TV signals even in such politically sensitive areas of Cameroon as Bakassi or Idenau has also not been working well for the country and its government as well as its peace condition because people in these areas are still heavily dependant on foreign news bureaus and stations for information and many times the information that they provide are highly misleading and deceptive leading to further issues.
In short it is important that the government realizes the power that television wields and the influence it provides since it is a mirror of the country in its own right and still hold the power to influence the minds and thinking of the people to a great extent.
The technical stipulation of the media is completed with the radio and TV broadcasts and the newspapers reviews. It has been proven time and time again that all the three are string influencers and Cameroon is no exception to the rule.Pin It