News / Latest / Ernest Kanjo / Tuesday, 13 April 2010 21:32
crtv_immeuble-x495Adult Cameroonians and those who by 1985 could boast of a sense of taste were gripped by a nolstalgic fit during the 25th anniversary celebration of the Cameroon Radio and Televison Corporation, CRTV recently. Good old-time memories of how the television magic hit Cameroon two and the half decades ago were once more regurgitated. It sufficed for some pioneer images, broadcast in the 1980s and 90s to be brought back on the airwaves for a huge segment of the Cameroonian population to run into a fit.

For one week during the Silver Jubilee celebration, CRTV televiewers were treated to old, but famous shows such as Elvis Kemayou's Tele Podium, Foly Dirane's Dance Cameroon Dance, Marie Rose Nzie's Coco Rosi, Akwanka Joe Ndifor's (of blessed memory) Minute by Minute, Diedonne Tine Pigui's Regard sur le Monde, etc. Perhaps, the highlight of the 25th anniversary was the bilingual news anchored by pioneers, Eric Chinje and Denise Epote, just like they did in the old good days of CTV.

Throughout the week, as CRTV aired those shows, tears flew. Many remembered the early days of television with mixed feelings - joy, sadness. Joy because they were once more treated to programmes that were pregnant with meaning. Programmes that touched community life. Programmes that held viewers spellbound. Such shows might not have been produced using the most modern technical means as is the case today, but they attracted a wide audience. Televiewers failed every where else but not to catch up with their prime time shows. They watch these shows religiously and made their presenters iconic figures. The grip of the television magic was too strong to resist. That is how people felt again during the 25th anniversary week in Cameroon. Some observers argue that the euphoria was thanks to the fact that TV was just making its debut in Cameroon. But the truth is that the programmes as well as their hosts were good enough. Eric Chinje, Charles Ndongo, Denise Epote, Julius Wamey, Ben berka Njovens (of blessed memory), Yolande Ambiana, Rose Epie, Pamela Messi, Michel Ngoumou, etc had no predecessors to learn from. They were pioneering, yet performed so well. That experience still remains a mystery.

However, there was a certain degree of disappointment as TV lovers joined the national broadcaster in celebrating its Silver Jubilee. Where has that flare, savoured in the 1980s and 90s gone to? What had become of the State-run television that had caused it to lose audience to such a huge extent? Such questions filled the aired during the Silver week. CRTV's pioneer General Manager, Florent Eli Etoga was quoted by a French private daily as saying he felt sick when he looked at CRTV today - "Quand je regards la CRTV aujourd'hui, je me sente mal," Le Jour wrote in its cover story.

The "National Television" as it is affectionately called by its staff as a way of managing the stiff competition of other channels, has dwindled along the years. Not only the coming of more vibrant privately owned TV channels have exposed CRTV's weaknesses, but the apparent short supply of creativity has put the giant broadcaster on the red. The elitist nature of CRTV's programmes soon estranged its audience who would later find solace in more community-based and socially rewarding shows offered by other stations. Its institutional news approach soon became too unpallatable to the lay viewer who now sees more meaning in watching human interest stories. Then, with the coming of pidgin broadcasters and their "infotainment" concept (though pioneered by CRTV Mount Cameroon FM's Kolle George), the national broadcaster has gone limping. The masses had gone and found pleasure elsewhere. Even at the sumptuous gala to crown CRTV's Silver week, guest comedians did not fail to point this out. "Remplir l'antenne avec les belles emissions," Kegege begged, meaning that the airwaves should filled with good programmes.

Fortunately, the twist in the landscape has been glaring and officials of the State-run television are conscious the tides are high. That is why efforts are being made to win back its audience. The recent move to now feature more of local fiction productions could be one of the ways in reviving the old dream. Happy 25 CRTV!


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 08:48

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