Radio is the most prevalent media in Ghana: a huge number of 481 FM broadcasting stations are authorized, out of which 354 stations are currently operational. This network covers almost the whole country. Radio has a wider daily reach – almost two third of Ghanaians listen to it on a daily basis - than print media because it does not face the same literacy and language barriers. In each of the ten regions, at least one station operates programs and news in the local dialect. It is not surprising that radio is the medium the average Ghanaian turns to for information: 62.9% of Ghanaians choose it as their prime news source. It is considered as controversial, with 48% of its audience perceiving it as credible, while 19.4% see radio information as partisan .
Radio Ownership: A fragmented market & the usual suspects
In terms of ownership, the radio market is quite diverse and ‘market leaders’ differ from region to region. Looking at the national market, the same big media companies like in TV - the Multimedia Group (Adom FM, Joy FM, Nhyira FM, Asempa FM, Luv FM, Hitz FM = 20.15%) and the Despite Group of Companies (Peace FM, Hello FM, Okay FM, Neat FM = 16.28%) - have a considerable standing. The next bigger companies follow with some distance: Omni Media Company Limited ranks third (Citi FM, 4.72%), and Kessben FM Limited (Kessben FM, 3.62%) just after. These 4 companies together hold an audience of 44.72%, which means a medium concentration. All following companies play in about the same league, amounting up to 2% of the audience each. This shows that the radio audience is rather fragmented due to the large number of local radio stations that are available in various areas of the country with each region boasting of a number of unique stations, amongst them community radios.
High number of community radios
Community radio stations are operated, owned, and driven by the communities they serve. They are not for profit and they serve socio-cultural communities within a specified geographical area. Their programming focuses on local news and announcements. The umbrella body for all community radio in the country is Ghana Community Radio Network GCRN. The association was formed in December 1999. The association aims to promote the growth of participatory, community-driven, community radio in support of development. It also dictates that a ‘Community Radio station shall be owned and operated by its listening community’. According to the NCA, as at the fourth quarter of 2016, 79 Community radio stations had been given authorization.
Ghana Broadcasting Corporation: Biggest regional network
The state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation takes a particular position: only the GBC is permitted a nationwide coverage, the other radio stations should not go beyond the region in which they operated from. Even if many radio stations don’t follow this regulation, the GBC with its nationwide network is a big player in the radio market, operating channels - Radio Savannah, Volta Star Radio, Obonu FM, Radio Bar, GBC Uniiq FM, Radio Central, Sunrise FM, Radio Upper West, Twin City FM - in all of the ten regions. GBC’s total audience share on a national level was not available. However, on a regional level, some of those state-owned radio stations are leading stations and thus opinion-leader in their respective regions; e.g. Radio Upper West is 1st in Upper West Region, Volta Star Radio is 2nd in Volta Region.
Affiliate stations & sister programs
The major radio networks all have several affiliated local stations, which carry many of the same shows or radio programs as the main media network - however, they are not owned by these main companies. Eagle FM in Cape Coast for instance is affiliated to Peace FM – broadcasts the same content – but is registered to Tizaabuni Multimedia Company Limited. Joy FM has based on information on its website over 40 affiliates over the country, including Radio Maxx (registered to Okyere-Minta Company Limited) and ATL FM (registered to University of Cape Coast), according to in-house information.