The Centre for Democratic Governance (CDG) has been following with keen interest and concern, attempts by Government to cripple the media in Ghana. Since January 2017, the body language of the Government toward some media facilities has been phenomenal; due to their expressed interest in the plagiarised speech of the President of Ghana, the abnormal conduct of fanatic vigilante groups across Ghana and the alleged corruption case of the two Deputy Chiefs of Staff of the Government of Ghana in 2017.
It therefore came not as a surprise, when one hundred and thirty one (131) radio stations were closed down by the National Communication Authority (NCA), for failing to honour their tax obligations. It is important to note that the action of the NCA, if not corrected will have some ripple effects in the very near future of media broadcasting and freedom of speech in Ghana, etc.
The dissemination of information including information on government policies by radio and television will be woefully inadequate. Besides, some of the radio stations are community based and any attempt therefore to close these stations, deprives the community of its only source of information. The station`s advertising contracts would have to be abrogated, naturally with consequences for the stations. Apart from the financial cost of the abrogated contracts, the NCA should tell the nation how radio stations should raise sums of money such as sixty one million Ghana cedis (GHȼ 61,000,000.00) to pay the charges they owe; in this harsh economy being experienced in Ghana. To be fair to the radio and television stations, the CDG makes the following recommendations:
That an amicable settlement should be made to reduce the long term impact on job losses, freedom of speech, governance, and diversity of information.
Secondly there has to be further and human face dialogue between the owners of the affected radio and television stations, the NCA and Ministry of Communication, of which CDG expects that it should lead to planned settlement.
That the Presidency of Ghana takes immediate steps to stop this unpopular action by NCA, as such an action which undermines our democratic credentials and subsequently nullifies media freedom in Ghana.
Mr. President of Ghana, we from CDG see the closing down of the one hundred and thirty one (131) media houses as not good enough for your image and questions the freedom of speech in Ghana.
By Dr. E. K. Hayford,
Centre for Democratic Governance (CDG).