The Media

Ghana Table of Contents

The Ghanaian government owns the only two major daily newspapers, the Daily Graphi (known as the People's Daily Graphi under the PNDC) and the Ghanaian Time with 1994 daily circulations of 80,00-100,000 and 60,000-70,000, respectively (circulation varies according to the availability of newsprint). The other daily, The Pionee, established in 1930, is an independent paper with a circulation of about 30,000. There are also a number of weekly newspapers with substantial circulations, including the independents, the ChristianMessenge and the Standar, and the state-owned Sunday irro and Weekly Spectato, the latter two with 1994 circulations of 85,000 and about 90,000, respectively. A number of state-owned and independent periodicals appear in English and in African languages.

The 1979 constitution, which the PNDC suspended after taking power, was the first to give special attention to Ghana's mass media. It prohibited press licensing, outlawed censorship, and guaranteed freedom of expression and equal access to the stateowned media. The constitution also provided for the establishment of an independent press commission, the responsibilities of which included appointing chief executives and boards of directors for the state-owned media, preserving press freedom, and maintaining the highest professional standards.

Under the PNDC, self-censorship was the rule in the media. The government considered it the responsibility of the state-owned media, if not the media in general, to project a good image of the government and to defend government programs and policies. To ensure compliance with this policy, the PNDC hired and dismissed editorial staff and other media personnel of government-owned publications. The Ghana Journalists Association, which acted as a pressure group for the advancement of the professional interests of journalists, had little real influence. The Newspaper Licensing Law, reintroduced by the PNDC in 1983, discouraged or inhibited the establishment and the freedom of private media.

The state-owned media and some of the privately owned local newspapers attacked Ghanaian journalists who worked or wrote for the foreign press, accusing them of supporting or collaborating with organizations opposed to the PNDC. With the suspension of the 1979 constitution, such rights as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association were not guaranteed but were merely granted at the discretion of the PNDC; however, numerous professional and civic organizations and independent newspapers that were non-political were allowed to exist and to operate freely.

The Committee of Experts (Constitution) Law of May 1991, which established the Committee of Experts to draw up proposals for a draft constitution, required that the proposals should assure the freedom and the independence of the media. Accordingly, the 1992 constitution guarantees fundamental human rights and civil liberties, including the freedom and the independence of the media. To protect the independence of the media, the National Media Commission was created in 1993 in accordance with a constitutional provision. The commission, an independent body, is charged with ensuring that all types of media, private as well as state-owned, are free of government control and interference. Under the Fourth Republic, the press has begun to enjoy a significant degree of toleration and freedom of expression.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress