By: Rebecca Ekpe & Clifford Okyere
The promulgation of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution gave life to a pluralistic Media in Ghana. Before then only the State Broadcaster, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation existed. With the passage of time and 30 years down the line, questions have been raised about Media regulation.
Some of the concerns are with the multiplicity and duplicity of Media outlets and its spread across the length and breadth of Ghana. Some lingering questions of Media Ownership and Oversight as well as regulating content all remain unanswered.
More importantly is the place of Traditional Media in the new media ecosystem which has been dominated by social media.
Article 162 of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution speaks to; – Freedom and Responsibility of the Media (3) says, “there shall be no impediments to the establishment of private press or media; and in particular, there shall be no law requiring any person to obtain a license as a prerequisite to the establishment or operation of a newspaper, journal or other media for mass communication or information.”
“Media Regulation has been done haphazardly in the past’’, says Media Enthusiast and Director General of the State Interests and Governance Authority, SIGA, Mr. Edward Boateng. In an interview with gbcghanaonline.com, he said he considers himself part of the change process of Media in Ghana.
“The regulation in the media landscape was done very haphazardly, allowing all manner of individuals to make decisions to drive change in the media landscape of this country which has landed us where we are now and it has led to dissatisfaction with the activities of the media.” He noted.
“But I would have loved to see more prosperity in our media because media all over the world and even in Africa like Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda, Media is paid very well. And therefore, if they are paid very well, they are able to focus and do the job, when they also have the tools.” Mr. Boateng added.
Currently in Ghana, around 135 newspapers are published in Ghana, including 16 independent newspapers and 9 daily newspapers
The National Communications Authority (NCA), has given frequency authorizations to 707 FM Broadcasting Stations in Ghana. Out of the total number of authorized FM Broadcasting Stations, 513 stations are currently operational as at Third Quarter, 2022.
Breakdown of Authorizations in Classification groups:
· 31 Public Radio Stations
· 5 Public (Foreign) Radio Stations
· 119 Community Radio Stations
· 24 Campus Radio Stations and
· 528 Commercial Radio Stations
According to the National Communications Authority (NCA), there are about 128 TV stations in Ghana. Out of the 128 authorized TV stations in Ghana, there are;
· 21 Analogue Terrestrial Television
· 1 Digital Terrestrial Pay Television (Service only)
· 5 Digital Terrestrial Pay Television (Service and Frequency)
· 23 Digital Terrestrial Free-To-Air Television Programme Channel (Nationwide Coverage)
· 4 Digital Terrestrial Free-To-Air Television Programme Channel (Regional Coverage)
· 8 Satellite Television Broadcasting (Pay TV Direct-To-Home Bouquet)
· 10 Satellite Television Broadcasting (Free-To-Air Direct-To-Home Bouquet)
· 55 Satellite Television Broadcasting (Free-To-Air Direct-To-Home Single Channel)
· 1 Digital Cable Television.
However, out of the 128 licensed TV stations in Ghana, 76 stations are on air.
Does Quantity mean Quality:
SIGA’s Director General, Edward Boateng has joined some experts who posit that there are too many media outlets in Ghana and these need to be regulated. The argument has been to open up the space for a pluralistic media, but it is time to harness the matter of regulating content.
Mr. Boateng believes that ‘’a conglomeration of the media outlets would have been a great force which would have developed into a stronger and more vibrant sector in the country in these current times’’. He is of the view that there are ‘’too many small media houses in this country which are not necessary’’.
Mr. Boateng gave examples of best practices.
“We could have employed foreign media model like the south African model or the USA model to use GBC to develop the electronic media and use Daily Graphic and New Times Corporation to develop the print media and social media would have gone on the back of these entities and would have had a stronger and more vibrant sector in Ghana” the Media Enthusiast posited.
National Media Commission and National Communications Authority; possible merger?
Meanwhile, some industry players have suggested the merging of the National Media Commission, NMC with the National Communications Authority, NCA which was established by an Act of Parliament, Act 524 in December 1996, which has been repealed and replaced by the National Communications Authority Act, 2008 (Act 769). The Authority is the statutory body mandated to license and to regulate electronic communications activities and services in the country.
The National Media Commission, NMC is also constitutionally mandated to promote and ensure the freedom and independence of the media for mass
communication or information. It is also required to ‘’take all appropriate measures to ensure the establishment and maintenance of the highest journalistic standards in the mass media, including the investigation,
mediation and settlement of complaints made against or by the press or other mass media among other responsibilities.
Once again can the NMC and NCA be merged?
As Ghana progresses the developmental trajectory, it is important to ensure a more cohesive and sustainable Media landscape in Ghana? This conversation should continue and the question of Media Ownership must be had.
One thing is however clear that the existence of the Public Service Broadcaster is non-negotiable, if Ghana ought to maintain its democracy and development.
The DG of SIGA, Mr. Edward Boateng obviously did not mince words when he said that ‘’it should have been a well-thought-out process’’, that it is important to take a critical look at the Media Infrastructure in Ghana.
‘’We should have taken a look at the infrastructure available in order to create a Media Super Highway which we would have ridden on the back then to develop into a stronger sector today’’, Mr. Boateng suggested.