DISTRIBUTION OF BROADCAST SIGNAL: NMC IS RIGHT.

EVEN before Ghana finally migrated to digital broadcasting, the National Media Commission (NMC) has raised the red flag about moves by the government to form a company to manage that space.

To be called Central Digital Transmission Company Limited (CDTCL), with both the CEO and the Board to be appointed by the President, the NMC stated that such a move would be illegal.

At a press conference in Accra on Tuesday to respond to the government on that proposed company, the NMC said the formation of the company would be a breach of Article 168 of the 1992 Constitution.

Article 168 of the 1992 Constitution states that, “the [National Media] Commission shall appoint the chairman and other members of the governing bodies of public corporations managing the state-owned media in consultation with the President.”

The Commission also contended that their position had been upheld by a 2000 Supreme Court ruling in the case, NMC versus Attorney General (Writ no.2/96 delivered on January, 26, 2000) which must be respected.

Granted it is by the Constitution, the NMC is among other things mandated to promote and ensure the freedom and independence of the media for mass communication or information and to insulate the state-owned media from governmental control.

“Apart from violating these specific constitutional provisions, the proposal goes against the spirit of the Constitution and our nation’s drive to achieve even greater freedom and independence of the media,” Chairperson of the Commission, Nana Gyan-Appenteng, said at the media briefing.

Stressing the need to adhere to the spirit and letter of the Constitution, Nana Gyan-Appenteng said Ghana could be turning back the dark days in its media history if care was not taken.

“By way of illustration, now that we are all going to transmit through a single channel, if a bad government seeks to shut down any media entity or attack the television domain, all it needs is to deny access to the single transmitter.”

The Ghanaian Times sides with the NMC on this matter and joins the advocacy for the Commission to have a free hand to work in line with its constitutional mandate.

The mandate of the NMC in chapter 12 of the 1992 Constitution has clearly been marked out to ensure there was a free media devoid of governmental control and same must be upheld.

Ghana has come a long way and is blazing the trail in free press on the continent and must continue to set a good example for the rest of the continent to follow.

We agree with the NMC that the framers of the 1992 Constitution wisely foresaw situations and scenarios such as the current one and thus created the Commission to prevent a throwback to the pre-1992 media culture in Ghana.

The Ghanaian Times also agrees with the constitutional body that an independent company appointed by the NMC would make it more difficult to deny access to the single transmitter.

The freedom of the NMC to perform its constitutionally mandated duty is sacrosanct and must be respected at all times.

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