Government respects freedom of speech – Information Minister

Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, has reiterated that the Government respects freedom of speech and expression as captured under Article 21(1) of the 1992 Constitution.

“Indeed, as we have always maintained, we prefer ugly noises to a culture of silence,” Mr Oppong Nkrumah stated on the floor of Parliament in his response to a question by Mr Vincent Ekow Assafuah, Member of Parliament (MP) for Old Tafo.

Mr Carlos Kingsley Ahenkrah, the MP for Tema West, on behalf of Mr Assafuah, asked the Minister about efforts the Information Ministry was putting in place to promote decorum and sanity on the nation’s airwaves.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah said: “We admit that our media today is faced with a number of challenges that have affected their performance.”

He noted that the media landscape in Ghana had changed significantly as a result of the introduction of the 1992 Constitution; saying “Indeed, the landscape has undergone radical transformation within the last three decades”.

“Today, we have 684 frequency authorizations for FM radio stations and 141 stations across the country.

“Out of the total number of authorised FM broadcasting stations, 489 stations are currently operational as at fourth quarter, 2021,” the Minister said.

The Minister said they were unable to count the numerous youtube channels and other social media apps that offer all sorts of content each day.

He said the developments had introduced a refreshing pluralism onto voices that had promoted democracy and participation in governance and development.

He said despite these developments, the media landscape was faced with several challenges including general capacity gaps of the media, and lack of a comprehensive legal framework to regulate the media particularly when it comes to content.

The rest are lack of transformation in media institutions, decline in reporting quality, low level of professionalism and inadequate training and competency gaps, lack funding, poor working and conducive conditions, and inability to maintain quality and retain relevant people.

“Mr Speaker, these challenges can directly be attributed to the low level of decorum and sanity that has bedeviled our media landscape today.”

He said it was to this end that the Ministry of Information, together with media stakeholders, had introduced a few interventions aimed at addressing the problems of the media including content in the short-term and the long-term.

He mentioned some of the interventions such as media capacity enhancement programme and the drafting of a Broadcasting Bill.

Others are collaboration with the National Media Commission (NMC) and the National Communications Authority (NCA) on unethical behaviour and signing of a memorandum of cooperation on content regulation in Ghana.

“While we trust that this House will pass the Broadcasting Bill when presented, we urge all stakeholders who have signed on the memorandum of cooperation to act within their current legal mandates to ensure that we enjoy the decorum we hope for on our airwaves,” the Minister stated.

Source: GNA

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