Mr Roland Affail Monney, President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has said the “greatest threat” to media freedom in Ghana are owners of media houses.
He told Abdul Karim Ibrahim on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Wednesday, 4 November 2020, that media owners are not only calling the shots as far as editorial content goes, but also censoring same.
“As regards the partisan posture of the media, what we are witnessing is an unprecedented invasion of the media space by politicians and this has changed the ownership structure altogether”, he observed, adding: “The ownership structure is something we need to take a long and hard look at”.
Mr Monney nonetheless admitted, “it’s a very difficult place”.
Media ownership, he noted, “confers power” on the individual “to the extent that we are witnessing instances of owners dictating content” to their media staff, insisting: “It’s our [journalists’] job to set the agenda, it’s our job to criticise, it’s our job to hold to account people in positions of power and it seems this job is gradually being taken away by owners and this has the tendency, the prospect, not only to change the complexion of media practice in this country, but also comes with some dangers to the quality of work and all that”.
“The greatest threat to media freedom now is no more government, even though governments will always find a way of interfering in the media and making sure that the media dance to their tune, the greatest threat comes from media owners, the ownership structure is the greatest threat to media freedom in Ghana”, Mr Monney stressed.
Mr Monney said it has not always been like this.
“In yesteryears when we were under autocratic mis-governance, when we were shackled by all kinds of laws: Criminal libel, sedition, newspaper licensing and all that, the number one enemy of the media was the government, so, the framers of the 1992 Constitution tended to insulate the media from state and governmental control, not anticipating the free-wheeling system we have now and the power that system confers on media owners”.