President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful to suspend her directive to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to suspend three of its six channels on the national Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform.
A press statement dated July 23, 2020, signed and issued by the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Mr Eugene Arhin said the Minister has been directed “to suspend the implementation of the directives given to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) in connection with the reduction of GBC’s channels on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform, pending further consultation with stakeholders.”
The National Media Commission (NMC) had described the directive by the Minister as a move that undermines the 1992 Constitution.
In a statement signed by its Chairman, Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, the commission said the directive by the minister was a form of political control that hindered media houses from adequately serving their purpose as stipulated by the 1992 Constitution.
In a letter addressed to the Director-General of the GBC dated June 26, 2020, the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, directed the GBC to reduce its six operating digital television channels to three.
The directive, which was to be implemented within 60 days was to ensure that there is space on the National Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform which is currently at full capacity with 40 operating channels.
Currently, GBC, which is the state broadcaster operates six of those 40 digital channels, namely; GTV Sports Plus (a channel for sports), GBC News (a 24-hour news TV channel), GTV Life (a religion and culture channel), GTV, Obonu TV (a channel for the people of Greater Accra) and GTV Govern (a governance channel but currently being used as a channel for tutoring JHS and SHS students during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of the closure of schools.)
A similar directive was also sent to Crystal Television, which also operates three channels on the DTT – Crystal Prime, Crystal Xtra and Crystal TV Plus.
But the NMC in its statement released Tuesday following an emergency meeting it held on a petition filed by the GBC against the directive by the Minister came to the conclusion that the directive was a direct attack on the authority of the NMC, as stipulated under Article 167 of the 1992 Constitution.
“It is the view of the commission that any action by any entity which culminates in 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,” it said.
“The commission wishes to state clearly that the directive given to GBC and Crystal TV by the Minister for Communications purports to usurp the constitutional mandate and authority of the NMC and same cannot be obliged under our current constitutional dispensation,” it said.