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Directive to reduce GBC, Crystal TV channels outside Communication Ministry’s mandate – NMC

The National Media Commission says moves by the Communications Ministry to reduce the number of channels that the state broadcaster, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and Crystal TV are operating on the National Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform is outside the Ministry’s remits and a usurpation of the Commission’s powers.

According to the NMC, the constitution mandates the Commission the fundamental function to “to promote and ensure the freedom and independence of the media for mass communication or information” and also “insulate the state-owned media from governmental control.”

Chairman of the NMC, Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo in a statement dated July 22 emphasised that any development that seeks to deprive the media of its use of resources legally allocated to them compromises their capacity to serve the country.

Management of Crystal TV had earlier mounted a defense saying such a move will “destroy jobs and exacerbate the unemployment challenges in the country.”

The Commission has determined that “the directive given to GBC and Crystal TV by the Minister for Communications purports to usurp the constitutional mandate and authority of the National Media Commission and same cannot be obliged under our current constitutional dispensation.”

The NMC said the DTT platform is an essential part of broadcasting and should be “treated as media to enable it to benefit from all the freedoms guaranteed the media by the 1992 Constitution.”

This comes on the back of an emergency meeting held by the NMC to consider issues relating to the directives given by Communications Ministry to GBC and Crystal TV over their broadcasting channels on the DTT platform.

A letter signed by the Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful on June 26, indicated the Ministry’s intention to reduce the number of GBC’s channels from six to three “to ensure there is redundancy on the National DTT platform which is currently at full capacity.”

The Commission also explained that its mandate “to insulate the state-owned media, therefore, enjoins the Commission to protect the Board, Management and staff of GBC from political interference as well as safeguard and preserve the entirety of state-owned media facilities, assets and other resources from governmental control.”

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