View Full Version : Ghana Government bans top media group

23rd March 2012, 05:28 PM
The Ghanaian government has officially announced its decision to ban Multimedia group and its journalists from covering all state events. The country's deputy information minister, James Agyenim Boateng who announced the government's boycott told various media organizations that all government departments and agencies have also been instructed not to grant interviews or advertise on Multimedia networks.

he directive follows government’s claims that the Multimedia group have not been fair to the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) on their programmes.

Agyenim Boateng said: “In the light of the large development on Asempa FM which led to a mob of NPP people led by Anthony Karbo storming the station, that incident for example did not find any space in the news bulletin of Joy FM and so by their conduct they have shown that they cannot be a fair party and neutral.”

“We consider that not in our interest... more importantly, we cannot guarantee the safety of our people when they appear on their stations,” he added.

Journalists as gate-crashers
He said since government has taken a unanimous decision not to use any of the group’s platforms to propagate its messages, any reporter coming from the media outfit should be deemed a “gate-crasher.”

Gate-crashing is the act of attending an invite-only event without invitation.

“We’ll find other platforms to carry out our messages. Multimedia journalists are not invited to cover state events,” Hon. Boateng said. “They give the NPP much coverage. The solution now lies with MGL. We’re doing fine as a government.”

But the Multimedia group has denied accusations of bias by the government of Ghana, saying they covered the mob action on Asempa FM and on their Top Story programme of February 22, 2012.

An illegal act
Meanwhile, Governance and Legal Policy Officer of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Kojo Pumpuni Asante has scorned government’s directive to its institutions to, with immediate effect, cease any dealings with Multimedia Group Limited (MGL).

He has described the action by the government as “illegal”, observing that the whole saga is also strange and undemocratic.
Kojo Asante of CDD-Ghana told Joy News’ that not only would the government’s decision fall flat in the face of the law, but also an affront to democratic practice.

“First of all, it’s illegal and it is an affront to our democratic practice. Both the letter and spirit of the constitution is very clear that government, as the agent of the people, have to respect the freedom of the press.

“The press is a surrogate for us (citizens), they collect information, they share with us; if government uses it powers to impede that work, it becomes undemocratic,” he maintained.

He further observed that “Chapter Five of the constitution on the Bill of Rights is very clear: it guarantees the freedom of the press. Chapter Six, on the Directive of State Policy, imposes an obligation on the executive and all arms of government to ensure that we have a democratic state. Article 21 of the constitution talks about our Right to Information, Chapter 12 of the constitution guarantees the independence of the media.”

Asante is therefore calling on all public officers to disregard the government’s directive.

“I am expecting the Public Services Commission to instruct all public officers not to obey this [government directive]. I am expecting the head of Civil Service [to do same], the National Media Commission to play its role, the Ghana Journalists Association to come out and the Attorney General to come and defend the Constitution.”

He counselled the government to separate the idea of government from party, noting that the ruling National Democratic Congress can choose to, if it so wishes, bar journalists from MGL from attending its party activities. But even that one, he believed, would be to the disadvantage of the party that is craving to secure a second term in office.

He explained government cannot ban Multimedia because it is imperative on the government to account to the public, and the media would have to play a critical role in holding the government in check for that accountability.

Mr Asante pointed out that since attempt by government to violate the constitution and abuse its power is there, Ghanaians must stand up and defend the country’s democracy.

The Multimedia group is one of the biggest media outlets in the West African nation comprising of about seven media houses with several affiliates across the country.