Akufo-Addo Stops Minister’s Unpopular Decision

Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

The President, has directed the Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful to immediately suspend her directive to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and Crystal TV to reduce their channels on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform.

Nana Akufo-Addo in a statement explained that putting the move on hold has become necessary "pending further consultation with stakeholders".

The statement from the Communications Directorate of the Jubilee stated that "the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Thursday, 23rd July 2020, directed the Minister for Communications, Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, MP, to suspend the implementation of the directives given to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), in connection with the reduction of GBC's channels on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform,"

Ahead of the President's instruction which was contained in a statement signed by Eugene Arhin, the National Media Commission (NMC) stood up to the Ministry of Communications preventing it from limiting the channels of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and Crystal TV on Ghana's Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform raising constitutional issues.

This was after it received a petition from GBC on the matter.

In a statement, the NMC said the directive usurps its mandate, hence cannot be approved.

"The Commission wishes to state clearly that the directive given to GBC and Crystal TV by the Minister for Communications purports to usurp the constitutional mandate and authority of the National Media Commission and same cannot be obliged under our current constitutional dispensation," NMC said in a statement signed by its Chairman, Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo.

"It is the view of the Commission that any action by any entity which culminates into limiting or depriving the media of the use of public resources, legitimately allocated to them undermines their capacity to serve the nation as anticipated by the Constitution."

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful in a June 26 letter directed GBC to reduce its channels from six to three.

Days later, in a separate letter, she ordered Crystal TV to also limit its three channels on the DTT platform.

The Minister gave both media houses 60 days to comply with the directive.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful defended the order, noting that it had become unsustainable for the government to be covering the cost of GBC's channels on the National Digital Terrestrial Television platform.

But the NMC explained that the directive breaches provisions of the country's constitution if it is allowed as it amounts to usurping its mandate.

In its ruling to overturn the Communications Ministry's order, the National Media Commission explained that it has the mandate to protect the state-owned media from any political interference.

The NMC further noted that any action by any entity which culminates into limiting or depriving the media of the use of public resources, legitimately allocated to them undermines their capacity to serve the nation as anticipated by the Constitution.

It gave the assurance that it will perform its "constitutionally-mandated guardian role" with high sense of dedication, alertness and patriotism.

Source: The Herald