The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) has expressed concern about the recent communication by the National Media Commission (NMC) to the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Advertisers Association of Ghana (AAG) regarding a call for the suspension or revocation of Onua TV and Onua FM‘s broadcasting authorisations. According to GIBA, it frowns on the manner the NMC has handled the matter.
“GIBA frowns at the actions taken by the NMC in addressing the issue of the alleged ethical journalistic infraction by the two stations for the reasons that, the Association believes there are far more avenues to explore in addressing the matter on hand, such as giving the opportunity for fair hearing to the stations rather than pronouncing sanctions upon them to the extent of alerting the Advertisers Association of Ghana of a Notice of Suspension without due process,” the Association said in a statement dated November 30, 2023 signed by its President, Cecil Sunkwa Mills.
Article 167 of the 1992 Constitution prescribes the Commission’s functions to include; “to promote and ensure the freedom and independence of the media for mass communication or information and to insulate the state-owned media from governmental control.”
In the same letter, the NMC imposed sanctions on the two stations without asking for their side of the story. Subsequently, the NMC wrote to the Advertisers Association of Ghana, threatening to suspend the frequency authorization of Onua TV/FM. The Commission further wrote to the National Communication Authority to suspend the licence of the aforementioned media outlets.
GIBA said, “such actions which are tantamount to depriving the stations of their advertising revenue is unacceptable. The fact that the NMC sought to cut-off the life support of the stations by writing to the AAG is damaging. GIBA will always advocate for the sanctity and sanity of the broadcast airwaves as we always do, working in collaboration with all institutions and stakeholders.” It would be recalled that on November 29, 2023, the Board of Directors of Onua TV/FM, said that it suspects the Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission wants to interfere in the editorial independence of TV and radio stations owned by the conglomerate. The Board said it considers this as a major threat to the media in Ghana and must be resisted.
“We suspect that his real intention is to interfere with the editorial independence of all the stations in the Media General Group. This, we believe, is a major threat to the media in Ghana and must not be allowed to happen,” the Board Chairman, Mr. Kojo Yankah wrote in a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Commission dated 29th November, 2023.
The Board of Onua TV/FM stressed that, “The NMC was established by the Constitution “to promote and ensure the freedom and independence of the media for mass communication and information” and we will take all steps necessary to ensure that the NMC is not rather used to trample on media independence for political or any other purposes.”
The letter by the Board of Onua TV/FM sought to complain to the Chairman of the NMC Board, about a letter written by the Executive Secretary to the Advertisers Association of Ghana.
“The attention of the Board of Media General Ghana (Ltd) has been drawn to a letter from the Executive Secretary of NMC dated 28th November 2023 to the Advertisers Association of Ghana, AAG, in which the NMC Executive Secretary has taken a rather unprecedented step to notify them that any further steps that they are taking to advertise on Onua TV and Onua FM are done at their own risk,” a part of the letter read.
According to the Onua TV/FM Board, it “takes a serious view of this matter. This illegal action follows other illegal steps taken by the NMC which we had responded to earlier. We addressed a copy of our letter dated 27th November 2023 to you and have attached another copy to this letter for ease of reference.”
“The Media General Board takes serious exception to the actions and posture of the Executive Secretary and would ask the NMC to take immediate steps to regularize all the missteps of the Executive Secretary in targeting Onua TV and Onua FM for purposes known to him,” the Board urged.