Directive to shutdown GBC channels suspended

Suspension follows widespread criticism of the directive as being a form of undue interference in the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.
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The President of Ghana has suspended a directive issued by the Ministry of Communications on 26 June to reduce the number of GBC’s DTT channels by half “pending further consultation with stakeholders”. The move comes one day after the National Media Commission (NMC) – whom GBC sought support to intervene – ruled to overturn the directive after it held an emergency meeting last week amidst widespread criticism.

What happened? GBC ordered to reduce channels by half

The NMC explained that “any action by any entity which culminates into limiting or depriving the media of the use of public resources legitimately allocated to them undermines their capacity to serve the nation as anticipated by the Constitution.” Since the Commission believes that the directive “purports to usurp the constitutional mandate and authority of the National Media Commission”, it therefore could not be approved.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) welcomed the decision to suspend the directive, which it called “illegal and inimical”. The advocacy group praised the NMC for “asserting its authority over GBC and constitutional obligation to insulate the state media against executive interference” and called on the government to “allow the Committee recently set up by the NMC to recommend strategies for a vibrant and viable Public Service Broadcaster to complete its work.”

The Minority in Parliament also called the suspension a “victory for media freedom”. But MP Sam George criticised the time it took for the President to respond to the directive, which came one day after the NMC’s decision. GBC’s staff are now calling on the President to go further than suspending the order by withdrawing it altogether. Chairman of the GBC union, Mr. Sam Nat Kevor, was quoted in Ghana Web saying that the public broadcaster’s “staff are feeling that the suspension means the directive can be reissued… So, there is a mixed reaction to that statement. We, therefore, want to say we accept that directive from the President as a cancellation.”