Insufficient legal safeguards
With a history of state media regulation suffocating the emergence of private and commercial media, the 1992 Constitution changed this situation to almost no regulatory safeguards concerning the operation of media outlets. It rather encourages, without stating so, limitless controlling influence by those who can afford to establish and operate newspapers, journals and any other form of mass media. No provisions regulate the media environment to prevent concentration of ownership and monopolies, for example by blocking mergers or acquisitions above a certain threshold; not even the general competition body would interfere - unless stock-listed companies are concerned. In particular, there are
- No regulatory safeguards against a high concentration ownership in TV, radio, print or internet sectors : relevant provisions of the Constitution do not include any articles or clauses (sector-specific and/or competition law) aimed at preventing media concentration and monopolies;
- No regulatory safeguards against a high degree of cross-ownership between different media types (press, TV, radio, internet) : There is no political or juridical awareness for the phenomenon of cross-media-concentration, effective merger control in Ghanaian media market is missing. No authority actively monitors cross-media ownership;
- Some regulatory safeguards for the provision of media ownership transparency : registration of companies is required at the Registrar General’s Department where according to the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2016 also the ultimate beneficial owner should appear. However, compliance, and law enforcement is low which leads to little transparency;
The pending Broadcasting Bill in its current draft would address the issue of concentration as it foresees restrictions on the holding of authorisations: a person or entity could attain a maximum of three in total, with each of those being in a different region. Its passage would also see the two main regulatory authorities – the National Media Commission and the National Communication Authority – collaborate more effectively and being equipped with greater responsibilities and powers to regulate, monitor and enforce compliance of clear provisions to make media ownership transparent and avoid concentration and monopolies.
Two Regulators and a large gap in-between
The National Media Commission (NMC) and National Communication Authority (NCA) are the two existing regulatory authorities with different mandates, different levels of (in-) dependency and a very low level of collaboration.
The NMC is mainly responsible for monitoring any type of media content, by also serving as a complaint body, but lacks effective means of sanctioning. The NCA, in turn, issues licenses and thus has also the power to revoke them, but monitors the whole market of telecommunications only in a merely technical fashion. The two bodies do not only differ in their mandate but also regarding the institutional set-up, funding, sanctioning powers, and compliance as listed below:
The National Media Commission Act 1993.
National Communications Authority 2008 (Act 769)
James Kwasi Oberko (2010). An Assessment of Compliance with Regulations of Selected Media Houses in Accra. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
Electronic Communications Act 2008 (Act 775)
Data Protection 2012 (Act 843)