CALABAR BUBBLES AS STARCROSS, EBONY TV TAKE OVER AIRSPACE
Calabar — The last two years have witnessed tremendous growth in the media and entertainment industries in Cross River State. The STARCROSS and Ebony Television stations now operating from the state capital, Calabar, no doubt, have changed the face of the state, hitherto regarded as backward and sleepy.
With the establishment of two satellite private television stations in the state, several residents no longer bother to watch or listen to the programmes of Cross River State Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC) anymore as they are now hooked to Ebony TV and STARCROSS TV, which now operate from Calabar. Mrs Mo Abudu is the visible personality behind Ebony TV in the state. She used to present the popular ‘Mo Talk Show’ on many TV stations in Nigeria.
Ebony TV started transmission few months ago from Studio Tinapa.
Ebony is mostly an entertainment station and can be received on DSTV. It signed a memorandum of understanding with the Cross River State government early this year, meaning the station gets support and funds from the Governor Liyel Imoke- led administration.
The reason for the state collaboration, aside from boosting state’s revenue and investment profile, it is hoped that the TV stations would help to project the state’s tourism and the month-long Christmas Festival, now a global attraction.
STARCROSS TV, on the other hand, is owned by the spiritual leader, Olumba Olumba Obu, but headed by Bishop Samuel Friday Akpan, a former deputy chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State.
The station, which is now popular among Calabar residents and beyond, is also received through satellite network around the world. Although it is operating with foreign partnership from the world headquarters of Leader Obu’s sprawling compound at 34 Ambo Street in Calabar, it has booster stations in Pretoria, South Africa and United Kingdom.
The station does not broadcast political programmes but mostly gospel music, interviews and general interest discussions. However, it devotes greater chunk of its airtime to the sponsor of endless gospels, based on love, forgiveness, truth and ‘arrival of the kingdom of God on earth’. To achieve its objectives, STARCROSS presently engages fresh graduates with no background in journalism for its broadcast. The only exception is a lawyer and former general manager of NTA Channel 7 in Lagos, Dr Adedeji A. Ayinde, who manages the TV outfit.
Watching the station will make you have an insight into the once dreaded religious outfit but now the toss of all and sundry in Calabar. Perhaps one of the aims for the establishment of the station is to clear some doubts and fears people had about the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star religious organisation.
Speaking to journalists about STARCROSS TV, its significance to the world and the upcoming celebration of ‘Supreme Signature Day in Calabar last week, spokesman of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, Bishop Princely Ibeabuchi, flanked by two other bishops, Joe Dike, who is the director of information and media of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star and Winston Nakanda bishop of Cross River State, said, “The major aim for the establishment of this TV station in Calabar, apart from creating a balance between government, the people and religion, is to project the presence of God Almighty and to graphically show the importance for humanity to practically exhibit virtues of peace, forgiveness, truth and love for one another.”
He said the TV station would help not only to project the significance of Eton Day and Supreme Signature celebration by the fold, but will also promote Nigeria. He emphasised that the fold annually marks the Signature Day to draw the attention of the world to the fact that there are signatures that have the divine and conventional capacities to upturn situations, just like signatures of Mr. President or Barack Obama, or other presidents of the world.
Commenting on the activities of the private broadcasting outlets in Calabar, a senior lecturer in Accounting at the University of Calabar, Bassey Bassey and another lecturer at the Cross River State University of Technology (CRUTECH), Bassey Akisot, commended the private initiatives, saying such would kick life into the government-owned CRBC radio and TV, which never witnessed competition before now.
“We welcome the establishment of private broadcast stations in Cross River State. This way, we can have better alternatives like states such as Lagos, Rivers and Abuja,” they said
Also, Inyang Ekpenyong Ene, a member of Tricycle Association in Calabar said, “I have been hearing about these television stations, but they are all ‘big men’ TV stations because the common man cannot afford to buy decoder or DSTV to be able to watch their programmes. I am happy about their operations in Calabar.”
Chief press secretary and media adviser to Governor Liyel Imoke, Christian Ita, also expressed happiness over the establishment of these media outlets in Calabar, hoping that they would run programmes that would not only bring harmony, peace and progress amongst the people of the state and Nigerians, but would help to draw significance and quality business to the state.
Governor Liyel Imoke confirmed this recently when he said that over $2 billion worth of investments from the media, entertainment and other industries have come into the state within this period. It was reasoned that the groundbreaking ceremony of the Free Trade Zone in Calabar by President Goodluck Jonathan for one of the five topmost companies in the world, General Electric that is investing one billion Dollars in the state economy might have informed the influx of a number of consequential people in Nigeria and multinational firms to now turn to Calabar for investments in the media, entertainment and other investments.
For this, the city, which was renowned for entertainment and relaxation before now, appears to be coming back to live with the coming of these TV stations and the influx of famous entertainers.
However, despite the level of investments which have attracted influx of Nigerians and foreigners into the state, the Cross River State Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC), the Nigerian Chronicle newspaper, one of the oldest publications in the country which produced the likes of Ray Ekpu, Paul Bassey and former governor of the state, Dr Clement Ebri, have not been making appreciable impacts in the state for some time now. They can be regarded as comatose.
Be that as it may, the government, instead of releasing funds to revamp these government-owned media outlets, prefers to put millions of Naira into its in-house publications, which circulate only within the state ministries, departments and agencies.
The federal government, with its understanding of the plight of the state in this regard, about a year ago, promised to establish an FM station in Calabar. The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, during an official visit to the state, promised that the National Radio FM would be established in Calabar since the equipment meant for it were moved to establish the Radio Nigeria Atlantic FM in Akwa Ibom State; but this is yet to be implemented.