Today marks the beginning of a national campaign to gather 1,000.000 signatures of Registered Ghanaian voters’ to petition the Government and Parliament to ABOLISH THE TV LICENCE law, and replace it legislation that is more suitable to today’s realities of a vibrant independent media.

Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby
Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby
Spearheaded by Policy Expert, Dr Charles Wereko Brobby, the campaign invites all Ghanaians to join the fight to achieve its objectives.

Letter copied to newsghana.com.gh indicates that participants can help is several ways specifically:

1. SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION
2. ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO SIGN ONLINE
3. DOWNLOAD HARD COPIES OF THE PETITION
4. RECRUIT VOLUNTEERS TO GET SIGNATORIES
5. ASSIST IN ANY OTHER WAY TO FACILITATE THE CAMPAIGN

The petition will be presented to the President & Parliament when the house resumes sitting in October.

Find below the full statement

Resurrection of TV Licence may sound the death knell for

Independent Broadcasting in Ghana

?Wereko-Brobby Kicked out? is how Peacefmonline reported it, courtesy of the Daily

Guide. ?Court dismisses Tarzan?s case against collection of TVlicense (sic)? was

Myjoyonline?s initial take on the matter, although this was sobered up later upon the

protestations of my Counsel. In later interviews with NEAT FM and HITZ FN, both

presenters initially saw the Fast Track Court?s decision not to grant my interlocutory

application to delay the collection of TV licence fees as a personal blow to me.

Later in the evening, I heard my niece Dzifa Bampoe chirpily declare that, as a law

abiding citizen. She was going to pay her fee promptly. Kemini cheerfully gave us the

modalities or paying which nephew George Wiafe wondered how much he would have

to cough up on account of his ownership of several TV sets?

The above represents the typical manner in which most independent broadcasters

reported The resurrection of the collection of TV licence fees by the GBC. To them, this was a

triumph of established order over the ?irritating? habit of constant stirring the calm waters by

Wereko-Brobby, aka Tarzan. If that were to be so I would have been better off paying

up my licence fee instead of spending up to seven(7) licence fees pursuing the matter in

court .

As far as I see it, the return of TV Licence fees poses a real and present danger to the

pluralism and choice we have enjoyed for the past 21 years in Ghana. Indeed, if not

checked, this could sound the death knell for private and independent broadcasting,

leading to the loss of several thousand jobs, and more alarmingly the unforeseen return of

state monopolised propaganda Just in case anyone is thinking I am being unduly alarmist, here is

the deal. A friend who shares my concern about this frightening prospect shared his ?back of the

envelope? calculation that at Ghc 36 per set, the GBC would raise annual revenue of about Ghc

115 million from the 3.2 million households based on the conservative estimate that each home

and only 1 TV set. This amount could more than double to about Ghc 250 million a

year hen you add revenue that would be raised from the thousands of TV sets in hotels,

restaurants, drinking spots, etc. as well from the purchases of new TV sets

So here we are that in one fell swoop, we the people of Ghana are handing a major

competitive advantage to a broadcaster that most of us confess we do not watch. ?But

the announcement of the new fees only earned swift condemnation from a cross-section of

the public.Most people believe that it is unnecessary to pay licence fees to the Ghana

Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) when it operates as a private broadcaster and yet

makes money from broadcasting TV commercials.? This is Myjoyonline?s report.

Unlike the venerable BBC, which is barred from raising revenue from commercials, and

has to rely solely on licence fee revenues to run its operations, the GBC is not barred from

making money from commercial activities. Indeed, the corporation?s law, which was

enacted in 1968 specifically expects GBC to raise revenue from commercial activities.

Whilst this may be understandable when GBC was the only broadcaster in Ghana in 1968, it

is absolutely untenable in this 21st century where Ghana has more than 400 radio

stations, over 30 free to air TV stations and a host of subscription services.

Dr. Kwame Despite and plain Kwasi Twum are the leading moguls on the Ghana

broadcasting scene at the moment. Between the two of them and latterly my elder

brother Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, they provide probably more than 60% of the content of

Ghana?s media. They have the most popular programmes and presenters, both for

current affairs and drama. They and other less dominating but still influential

independent broadcasters have become our sources of reliable, balanced and

informed news as well as most entertaining popular drama.

I don?t know how much Dr. Kwame Despite, Kwasi Twum and Dr Duffuor?s personal

fortunes are. Unfortunately I did not get to scroll the 80 richest Ghanaians list. Never

mind, the issue is that no matter their worth, I know they are hard headed business

people, who will not cherish nor indeed want to invest heavily in a broadcasting

industry where the least watched competitor is given an annual head start of GHC 250

million from licence fees, and also allowed to compete with them for the commercial

revenue that they solely depend on for their operations.

I can say without equivocation that, if this situationis allowed to persist for long, the

three gentlemen will almost certainly conclude that the media platform has been

skewed in favour of the state broadcasterresulting in patently unfair competition. The

sensible and obvious thing to do will be to abandon Ghana?s broadcasting industry and

move on to other opportunities that they believe to be fairer. The result, the loss of

thousands of jobs of presenters, producers, advertising executives, etc. from the JOY,

PEACE, STARR franchises and many more less dominant players

I would suggest that the foregoing scenario is not farfetched at all. For if we resurrect

a 49 year old law and begin collecting TV licence fees without dragging all other

relevant laws into today?s reality of a plural media landscape, the unintended

consequence will be a slow and premature death of independent media in Ghana

It is important we do not put the cart before the horse here. First we need to review the

47 year old GBC Act and replace it with a new Broadcasting law which will deal with

today?s reality, including defining what is considered public broadcasting today, should

there a single platform for it, the BBC model, or should public broadcasting be part of

the obligation of independent broadcasters too?; and last but not least, should we the

public be asked to fund public broadcasting through licence fees, and if so how should

this be done without damaging the principle of pluralism and choice?

There is an ongoing conversation on a new Broadcasting law which hopefully will

address the above questions. I believe that it is in the enlightened interest of Ghana?s

media practitioners to focus the narrative on discussing and finding credible and fair

solutions to the above, rather than sounding the death knell on their own careers and

future on being the cheer leader for the GBC collection of licence fees.

For the millions of Ghanaians who do not agree with paying the licence fees, the

remedy is not to threaten ?YENTUA? for that would be unlawful even as most of us do

not see any rhyme or reason to pay for something we do not derive any benefits from.

The proper thing to do is to join in the campaign to abolish the antiquated laws of

yesteryear and replace them with new laws that reflect today?s landscape. If you feel

as strongly about the survival of independent broadcasting in Ghana, as I do, visit

www.facebook.com/abolishtvlicencefee and sign the petition to our Government and

Parliament.

Just for emphasis, it is not about Wereko-Brobby; I will gladly pay the fee just so that I

can continue o watch the BBC and other subscription media. Rather, it is s about

whether Ghanaians will continue to hear ?Chairman Kwame Sefa, my niece Dzifa and

her colleagues, my nephews Kaba. Bernard, Sky, and Abeeku Santana, and all those

wonderful and gifted presenters who have come to represent all that is good,

illuminating and vibrant in independent broadcasting in Ghana today.

Source : newsghana.com.gh

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