Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu has condemned the closure of Radio Gold and XYZ by the National Communications Authority (NCA), stressing the approach by the authority smacked of political targeting.
The Authority, he said, needs to explain its action and demonstrate the approach has been replicated on all the 135 radios stations that were initially affected and not only the two, which are known to be critical to the current administration and strong advocates for the opposition.
Haruna Iddrisu indicated he will file a question the first day Parliament resumes to demand answers and details from the NCA to enrich the jurisprudence of media practice in Ghana. The Minority leader who gave this assurance on Newsfile, Joy Fm’s political talk show on Saturday, observed that timing of the closure was most curious when the National Council of Elders of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was addressing a press conference on a matter boiling the political temperature.
He said, “Could the closure and the timing be coincidental? That remains a fundamental question for the NCA to answer. We will want the same publication of the NCA in respect of the 492 radio stations operating in Ghana and not only Radio Gold and XYZ.”
“Let them give us a profile of every radio frequency and how it has been operational from 1995 till the two closures occurred,” he stated.
Haruna Iddrisu stated that for effective media pluralism and growth of the sector, a certain liberal attitude is important to allow media houses to grow. Using the Multimedia Group as an example, he said the previous administration of which he as a part allowed them space to grow in the digital electronic space.
“It was a certain liberal tenure to allow you grow because you have demonstrated you were filling a certain critical gap in the media landscape at a time when the country had not even gone digital. We allowed you to go digital because we could have insisted on the law and say wait until we have a level playing field,” he stated.
According to the Minority leader, the media in Ghana has generally been labelled as pro-government or against, a reason which puts the likes of Radio Gold and XYZ being labelled opposition media and Peace and Citi Fm as pro-government.
That, he said, is not to say the actors of these media establishments do not demonstrate neutrality in the work they do. He indicated if the radio communication is to assume commanding importance in the country, there should be massive reforms, stressing that a fundamental issue the media should be pushing for is the broadcasting bill.
Ghana dropped 3 points in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), ending up at 27th, which incidentally was remarkably better than both Britain and the United States that ranked 33rd and 48th respectively.
Ghana’s poor showing had been attributed primarily to the murder of investigative journalist, Ahmed Suale and assault on journalists by both police and political party functionaries. 2019 however, has not been a good year for the media, which has witnessed journalists being assaulted, threatened and forced into exile for performing their duties.
The closure of the two radio stations and perhaps more to come as the country moves gradually towards the 2020 elections is set to push Ghana further down the next ranking as the subtle move targeting critical media continues.
Incidentally, earlier this year, a report by the Freedom House think tank, found an alarming decline in democracy across the world, as a growing number of countries subtly move towards authoritarian rule.
The report found 2018 was the 13th consecutive year of deteriorating political freedoms around the globe.