Heh, the brand new and I must say very photogenically handsome minister seems to be on a miss-step – I don’t want to say that he’s just following on from whence others have trod before him, that would be too strong, I hope – but with statements as those which appeared in today’s GDN give rise to a worrisome future, if the gentleman’s words are taken at face value:
Any show that may harm the image of Bahraini womenâ€™s are banned from being screened by the Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation, Information Minister Jehad Bukamal said yesterday.
TV drama writers have been strongly instructed not to write anything that may give a negative impression of Bahraini women, the minister told Shura Council members at their weekly session.
What’s wrong with the above statements, you might wonder? I’ll tell you what, they assume that Bahraini women are inviolate goddesses not prone to error. While some might approach that naive assessment, I would venture to say that the vast majority of them are simply human beings with wants, needs and some might even have a nastier streak in them than a lot of their opposite gender. So asinine blanket statements like the above actually do more damage to the country as a whole rather than women alone. And of course, there is the image of that huge big pair of scissors that the honourable gentlemen gave the impression of eradicating when he first took office.
So, the chips are down, and the Misery of Information is carrying on as it were, an out of date and an out of control juggernaut going on momentum and hoping to be pointing in the right direction. Pre-censoring everything, banning material, ordering writers to write what the ministry wants, rather than reflect and treat real and felt social ills.
Perfect. But there’s more:
â€œEven the shows we buy from abroad are carefully studied before they are purchased to ensure that they are inline with the countryâ€™s policies, which respect women and their outstanding role in society,â€ said Mr Bukamal.
He’s also suffering from an acute sense of amnesia it seems. He has forgotten that in this area alone there are over 300 satellite channels all clamouring for eyes and only a very small percentage of them are semi-succeeding, but only if success is measured not in monetary terms but in that of viewership figures, a number that his illustrious television station is in dire need of and barely enjoys numbers in the teens.
Where is he going to buy his programs from, one wonders, and which distribution company in their right mind is going to entertain such a draconian measure as to make programs available to his channel which are “inline with the countryâ€™s policies“? Which country is he talking about? Oh, Bahrain. The population of which is still an unknown figure and all of whom hardly if ever turn on Bahrain TV even by accident.
â€œWe have a lot of local shows to highlight the pioneering role of women and discuss women and family issues. Women events, programmes and activities are also being covered and special programmes on them are being broadcast.â€
â€œThere are new programmes directed towards women and we hope to have them launched soon.
Oooh goody! But see the preceding paragraph please. If this is your idea of running a television station after a few months at the job, I’m afraid to burst your bubble and tell (not advise) you to put the brakes on immediately, put plans in place for you to be the very last Minister of Information this country will have, and spin off BRTC into the private sector. THAT should be your manifesto for the job you have.
But, if you do intend to continue on the path your predecessors have dithered on, I suggest at the very least look into spinning off the production departments and outsource it to the private sector so they can provide quality programs for you to choose from and pay fairly for. (Full disclosure: I own a production company, but I am not interested in doing any production for Bahrain TV under the current circumstances.)
â€œWomen employees in particular are being sent abroad to courses and specialised workshops, as we try to improve programmes dealing with women.â€ He said that 384 employees have been sent to workshops last year, out of them 165 were female.
â€œThirty-seven employees took part in courses and workshops abroad, out of which 17 were women. Those workshops and courses not just deal with women, but with ways of improving programmes for society.â€
Huh? Isn’t this a clear case of discrimination? The numbers might not suggest it so I’ll let it pass. What I will bring up; however, is the huge number of staff that TV station has! Come on! FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY ONE people have been sent on courses for a TV station that only has one and a half channels? For god’s sake! This guy is squandering the country’s resources too! If they have sent 421 souls on courses, how many more were left behind to run the station? I bet it is the same figure again if not more!
On a recent visit to NBC Studios in New York at the Rockefeller Plaza, we went through several floors and visited iconic studio sets like Saturday Night Live and Conan O’Brian, I can bet they don’t even have a quarter the staff our hugely productive Bahrain TV has, yet, we all know the kind of programming and news NBC churns out to world-wide acclaim. So it’s not a numbers game.
So come on man, gird up the loins and fire 90% of the staff (keep the janitors, they do an honest job) and base the can decision on quality rather than gender. Shake that place up good and make it ready to present to the private sector to take over. You can even make the government more money by spinning of the radio separate from the television offerings, and I bet that most investors won’t even want to get your archaic equipment, they will just be interested in the frequencies and licenses!
So cut out the marketing stuff and do what’s right. You were an elected MP, then an assigned one, and now you are a minister and before all of that you were (are?) a businessman. There is no one better positioned to make real change into that flaccid organ.
So get on with it. Please.