Government of Ghana and stakeholders are putting in place measures to sanitize the broadcasting industry in the country.

digitalThis is being done through the introduction of a proposed broadcasting Act, which seeks to ensure that persons entrusted with spectrums for broadcasting operate in a manner that safeguards public order, public morality, national security and generally use the resource in the best public interest.

At a stakeholders forum here on Wednesday to finalize the Broadcasting Bill, Minister of Communications Dr. Edward Omane Boamah lamented that the absence of the regulatory overview of the content of programs was inimical to public interest.

?This exposes the public, including victims of rape and particularly children, to non-edifying and sometimes harmful programs.

?The cumulative effect therefore is that while the over one decade period of deregulation has made Ghanaians realize that broadcasting is at the nerve centre of our improved lives, it has also revealed that its liberating power has the potential to undermine public good, ? the minister noted.

He therefore justified the need to put in place a law that seeks to sanitize the industry and make it promote national interest.

?The Bill, as it stands, seeks to clarify and define the roles of the two regulatory bodies responsible for the management of the sector, which are the National Media Commission (NMC) and the National Communications Authority (NCA),? Omane Boamah explained.

The NMC is the Constitutional body with the responsibility to safeguard the freedom and independence of the mass media as well as to ensure high standards in the media.

The NCA was established to regulate communications by wire, cable, radio, television, satellite and similar means of technology for the orderly development and operation of efficient communications services in the Ghana.
Besides the regulatory aspects, the bill also seeks to ensure clarity in the roles, principles and objectives of broadcasting.

As at June 2015, there were 58 licensed TV stations and 390 radio stations licensed to operate countrywide, compared to the single state-owned radio station and one TV station operated by the state-run Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) as at 1994.

?The paradox, however, has been that legislation has lagged behind these new developments on the media landscape. The existing legislation framework does not fully address the requirements for sustainable broadcasting in a technological environment

?And it has become important to have a broadcasting law to address the legal and regulatory challenges that will promote our social, political, economic, educational, developmental and cultural well being,? the minister stressed.

President of the Independent Broadcasters Association, Akwasi Agyeman, urged stakeholders to ensure that while the professional underpinnings in broadcasting were upheld in the proposed law, room was also made for growth of the business side of broadcasting.

?Look at the world-wide phenomenon where there seems to be some broadcast convergence. We should rather, I believe, encourage mergers, acquisitions and interactions among various players.

?So that the broadcasting space that we have would move from just these one man shops to global companies that can also move to other markets. Any law that seeks to inhibit growth and seeks to make all of us smaller players so that nobody dominates the other, I believe, will be problematic,? Agyeman noted. Enditem


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