Guinea Bissau state TV goes off for 4 months

By Nangayi Guyson – Bissau – AFP-Guinea Bissau’s state television broadcaster has been down for four months with broken transmitters and a staff who have gone unpaid for about as long, its director said on Wednesday.

“We have been at a standstill since July because of a breakdown of transmitters,” Eusebio Nunes, head of the state-owned Guinea Bissau National Television (TVGB), told AFP.

TVGB which was created in 1989 is poorly-maintained and lacks equipment

According to Nunes , the reporters have only two cameras, one of which is broken, a single editing table and no vehicle.

The staff, consisting of around 100 journalists, technicians and administrators, are demanding several months’ back wages, bonuses and better working conditions.

“A journalist earns 63 000 CFA per month while a 50 kg bag of rice now costs 20 000 CFA, a third of his salary. How do you want us to be motivated?” asked cameraman Jose Banjaqui.

“We are tired of complaining to the authorities,” said Camara Sibiti, editor and star presenter.

“Nobody is interested in our station because the prime minister has his own reporting team covering his activities both outside and inside the country. It is the same for the president. In such a situation, what use is the national television? “he said.

A technical team formed part of an Angolan government delegation which visited last week for “a comprehensive diagnosis of needs,” and promised in an official statement to find a solution “as soon as possible”.

“Look on the roofs of houses. Everywhere there are satellite dishes. The Guineans do not watch their own television, which doesn’t work,” remarked Quintino Djassi, owner of a video showroom in the capital.

Guinea-Bissau, a west African country known for its history of political instability and as a drug-trafficking hotspot, has a population of 1.5 million, of whom 12 000 own television sets, according to a study published in 2006.