A former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Volta River Authority and founder of Radio Eye, Dr. Charles Wereko Brobby says the directive from the Ministry of Communications to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation to reduce its channels from 6 to 3 is tantamount to oppression of media freedom.
Speaking to Citi News, Dr. Wereko Brobby said the order contravenes the law.
“On the appropriateness of the action, I will refer you to Article 167(c) of the Constitution which says the National Media Commission shall shield all state media houses from interference from government. The Minister for Communications is a member of government and GBC is a state-owned media. If you actually ask people to reduce, you can interpret it as interference from government on the business of a state broadcaster. What we fought for is for the media to be independent of government control and the person who defended the action we fought for is now President of Ghana so let him interpret what it means. The power of the President to prescribe and to ensure what the constitution of Ghana sets down.”
Communication Minister’s defence
The Minister for Communication, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful in a June 26 letter directed the GBC to reduce its channels from six to three.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful defended the order to GBC noting that it had become unsustainable for the government to be covering the cost of GBC’s channels on the National Digital Terrestrial Television platform.
“If we are going to hand that cost completely to the broadcasting channels at this time when there is a general business slowdown… we will have a problem because, on the basis of the figures I have seen, you will be unable to pay for the cost of hosting the platform,” she explained.
The Minority in Parliament, however, lambasted the Communications Minister over the decision.
It said the request from the Communications Ministry was unlawful because it did not have the remit to take such a decision.
GBC writes to NMC to help after request to reduce channels
GBC has subsequently written to the NMC for urgent help after it was asked to reduce its channels from six to three by the Communications Ministry.
The directive “will virtually mean that GBC will have to reduce its operations by half,” the Corporation noted in a letter to the Commission.
According to the GBC, a reduction in channels could lead to “serious budgetary and human resource challenges… and indeed can collapse the Public Service Broadcaster,” it warned further
“It is with these implications in mind that the Board of Directors has instructed me to communicate this to the National Media Commission and request your urgent intervention on behalf of GBC.”