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Legal Background

A legal regime to regulate the media in Ghana dates as far back as 1966 under the military rule of the National Liberation Council, and 1977 under the reign of the Supreme Military Council. The promulgation of the 1992 democratic Constitution then delivered a promising, thirst-quenching cocktail of media freedoms in a bill of rights including a dedicated chapter guaranteeing media independence and prohibiting censorship.

But until today, despite years of consultation and advocacy to this effect, Ghana still does not have a Right to Information or Broadcasting Law. While the Constitution grants that “all persons shall have the right to information”, the absence of policy and legislation make it very difficult for both journalists and ordinary citizens to access it.

The lack of broadcasting legislation in the country has led to a vacuum in the regulatory environment. None of the two media bodies – neither the National Communications Authority (NCA), focusing on technical and authorization issues, nor the National Media Commission (NMC), concentrating on content – have a mandate to curb monopolization or media concentration.

This issue is addressed in the on-going Broadcasting Bill debate. The 2014 draft aims at limiting concentration and controlling interests in media, preventing political influence, enhancing ownership transparency, and restricting foreign ownership.

Headwind is, however, strong from those that would be affected – which for example are those media groups that hold more than the prospectively allowed amount of frequency licenses for example. The Ghana Independent Broadcaster Association has made it known that it is “completely opposed” to any anti-concentration provision.

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