The Private Newspaper and Online Publishers Association of Ghana, (PRINPAG), the umbrella organization of all privately owned newspapers and Online News Portals in the country, has noted with great concern, the raging controversy that has surrounded the directive by the Minister of Communications, Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful that, the state broadcaster, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, should cede three of its six channels on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform.
The directive and its resultant controversies in the past week attracted negative reactions from some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), condemning it and indicating that, it was tantamount to a fettered control of a segment of the media in disguise.
The controversy created tension between GBC, the Minister and her Ministry, and other media stakeholders, notably the National Media Commission (NMC), the regulator, and the Ghana Journalists Association, to mention just a few.
In the midst of the controversy, the NMC stamped its authority as the media regulator in Ghana and kicked against the Minister’s directive, a move that compelled the President of the Republic to order the Minister and her Ministry to suspend the directive and its implementation.
PRINPAG as a critical partner in Ghana’s media industry, commends the NMC, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and all patrons of media freedom and independence in Ghana, particularly CSOs, whose interests in the matter, have succeeded in dowsing the blazing fire that had the tendency of courting disaffection for Ghana, as far as our press freedom index is concerned.
PRINPAG also commends the unionized staff of GBC for their stance in resisting the directive and rather standing firm in defending what they termed as the birth-right of the Corporation.
PRINPAG sees the position of the Minister and her Ministry as a wrong move, whose repercussions could have dire consequences and impacted negatively on media freedom and independence in the country.
This is because, we are of the view that, for such a critical decision that was to affect the right of the entire workforce of the state broadcaster, it was important for the Minister to have engaged both the management and the leadership of the union of GBC and to make them understand the position of the Ministry, instead of the manner in which the decision was made in a seemingly autocratic manner.
PRINPAG is further of the view that it is the exhibition of such autocratic tendencies of non-engagement and spite for subordinates and stakeholders, coupled with our neglect of the needed respect and regard for the media, among other critical factors, that have and are still working against the growth of the media in Ghana, with their attendant consequences on the performance index of Ghana’s media in recent times.
With the concerted efforts by all media stakeholders in condemning the decision and the directive, especially media practitioners in the country, PRINPAG solidarities with the entire workforce of our media partner institution, GBC, and cautions that, Ghana’s media practitioners will no more sit unconcerned and allow both state and non-state actors to act in a manner that will fly in the face of media freedom and independence.
We in the media in Ghana, will henceforth resist any attempt by any external forces, to attempt to infiltrate our ranks and to engage in practices that will go a long way to negatively affect output and by extension, negatively affect professionalism and its attendant lowering of standards, and the GBC example, is a test case of our resolve to stand up against anybody, no matter his or her stature in society, whose acts could oppress and suppress media practitioners and the media in general.
We commend our counterparts at GBC for their boldness and assure them of our support at all times, so long as the cause they are fighting for is in the best interest of media freedom and independence and in the general interest of mother Ghana.
PRINPAG understands that the blueprint for the implementation of the DTT migration proposes the setting up of a supposedly independent, but Executive controlled entity – the Central Digital Transmission Company Limited (CDTCL) – to manage the DTT platform in the interest of transparency and fairness., and this, PRINPAG expects to be under the control of the NMC, since it is the manager of the state-owned media enterprises in the country and well informed on issues pertaining to the media.
PRINPAG ends its statement on a note of urging all media practitioners in the country, to close our ranks and to resist the temptation of allowing anybody to infiltrate our ranks to influence us to engage in unprofessional conducts and practices that could end up throwing the country into chaos, as the country gears up for the December 2020 general elections. Let us resist influences that will push us around and that may cause us to engage in practices that may serve as a recipe for disaster for the country.
Long Live Ghana! Long Live Ghana’s Media!
Andrew Edwin Arthur
(0244 980088 / 020 8178498)