Aden Radio & TV: Glorious Past & Brilliant Future [Archives:1998/24/Reportage]
Founded in 1964, the Aden TV or the 2nd Channel is one of the oldest broadcast stations in the Arabian Peninsula, where many people were trained and qualified to work in other Arab broadcasting stations. It witnessed several ups and downs due to the ever changing social and political climate, but has now acquired a very active part in the Yemeni media and the Yemeni General Radio and TV Establishment (YGRTE).
With the recent present of broadcast equipment from the Japanese government, the 2nd Channel is preparing a whole new host of programs and artistic creations.
Ridhwan Al-Saqqaf, Chief of the Yemen Times Aden Bureau, talked to Mr. Yaslum Matar, the director of the 2nd TV Channel about the future plans of this important institution. He filed the following interview.
Q: What department does the 2nd Channel have?
A: There is the General Programs Directorate, which consists of a number of sub-directorates and smaller departments such as the News, Programs, Engineering, Broadcast, Advertising, Research and Studies, and other administrative sections. All these departments work in close cooperation and coordination with each other.
Q: What new developments have taken place at the 2nd Channel?
A: We have resumed an almost daily schedule of on-air programs. Work is also underway to renovate and modernize the building to house the new equipment provided by the Japanese government, the rest of which are due to be delivered by the end of this year. This will enable the 2nd Channel broadcast to reach almost all parts of Yemen.
Q: Could you tell us more about the Japanese equipment?
A: The government of Japan has generously donated YR 8 million worth of equipment that will be provide additional facilities in terms of recording, editing and broadcasting as well as a special vehicle for external live broadcasting. The new equipment will also enable us to re-record some of the old and much cherished programs to be compatible with modern digital broadcasting systems.
Q: What sort of government support do you receive?
A: The Ministry of Information’s top priority is to get the message to the general public and serve hopes and aspirations. The ministry is now studying plans to amplify the 2nd Channel broadcast so that it reaches all parts of the country. We have been allocated the former building of the foreign ministry in Aden, which will enable us to open new departments.
Q: What difficulties do you face in your work?
A: There is a marked lack of serials and soap operas to show. Also, we often suffer from lack of the necessary spare parts in the case of a sudden break down.
Q: Any last comment?
A: The 2nd Channel has a lot of old archival material that is threatened with disintegration if they are not properly restored.
Yemen Times also met Mr. Jameel Mohammed Ahmed, the head of the Aden Radio Sector in the YGRTE.
Q: When was the Aden radio station first established?
A: Aden radio started its broadcast for the first time on 8 August, 1954. It played a great role in many political and cultural events in this part of Yemen, and has the credit of preserving a big part of Yemen’s singing and musical heritage.
Q: What are the capabilities of the Aden radio station?
A: Aden radio broadcasts on a 750-kW medium wave, covering the whole of Yemen and other parts of the Arabian Peninsula for 15 hours a day, except on Fridays when the broadcast period is extended to 18 hours.
Q: There has been a joint broadcast with the BBC. Could you tell us about that?
A: The Aden radio and the BBC Arabic section had on 31 May jointly broadcast the ” Open Program.” This broadcast was done very professionally.
Q: What impression did the visiting BBC team come out with?
A: Our BBC colleagues praised the success of this experiment and the punctuality and professionalism of Aden staff, despite the short period of prior preparations.
Q: Has the Aden Radio received technical assistance from the Japanese government?
A: Any assistance comes to the YGRTE as a whole, of which the Aden Radio is a part, and is allocated according to the needs of individual departments.
Q: What are your future plans to develop the Aden Radio?
A: Any realistic plans must rely on the available resources and capabilities. The regular four-month seasonal programming schedules or periods are in themselves part of the future planning.
In coordination with the Ministry of Information, we formulate plans to develop the programs and strengthen the broadcast signal. A comprehensive one-year program is due to start in the near future to train our staff on various aspects of media work, whether creative or administrative.
Q: What are the major difficulties you face in your work?
A: The main hindrance is the reliance on old equipment, especially those used for recording. The problem is compounded by the lack of spare parts, leading occasionally to stopping the broadcast altogether. Lack of financial resources is also affecting not only the day-to-day running of the station, but also the creativity process itself.