- Ghana placed 60th on the 2022 Press Freedom Index by RSF
- Ghana drops 30 positions in a new ranking
- Reporters Without Borders tag current Ghana government as intolerant to criticism
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) recently released its 2022 World Press Freedom Index which had Ghana placing 60 out of 181 countries.
The new ranking saw Ghana dropping some 30 positions from its previous ranking in 2021.
Officially released on its website, RSF tagged Ghana as a country “with a reputation as one of Africa’s most democratic countries” that “enjoys a vibrant and pluralist media environment.”
On the outlook of Ghana’s media landscape, the report underpinned the operation of several media outlets in the country to the 1992 Constitution and the non-requirement of a media license for operating a media house in the country.
“Thanks to the 1992 Constitution authorising new media outlets to launch without a license, at least 100 media outlets operate in Ghana, including radio stations, television networks and internet sites. The most popular are the state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, and its television and radio stations GBC TV and GBC Radio, in addition to Accra FM, Joy TV, Peace FM and City FM. Recently, the country has seen a major media industry transformation, with many outlets launching online news sites.
On media and politics, the report noted that Ghana despite being touted as a regional leader in terms of democratic stability has in recent periods seen political pressure on journalists growing.
This according to RSF has led journalists in the country to resort to self-censorship to protect jobs and personal safety as the government has shown itself to be intolerant of criticism.
“Although the country is considered a regional leader in democratic stability, journalists have experienced growing pressures in recent years. To protect their jobs and their security, they increasingly resort to self-censorship, as the government shows itself intolerant of criticism.”
The report further noted a partisan outlook of content produced by some of the Ghanaian media because “one-third of media outlets are owned by politicians or by people tied to the top political parties.”
“The content they produce is largely partisan,” it added.
Legal framework of media work in Ghana
Again, the report recognised the freedom of the media to operate in Ghana in accordance with the regulations of the 199 Constitution.
It noted that despite the Right to Information Act passed in 2019 aimed at helping journalists have access to information from state institutions, a clause in the act is being exploited to deny journalists access to information.
“Press freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution of 1992. Media are free to operate as they like, in accordance with the regulations of the National Media Commission. The 2019 information access law authorises journalists to demand information of national interest. However, a clause in the law allows a fee to be charged if the information requested is in a language other than English – a provision used to deny journalists’ access to the information they seek.”
RSF noted that a lot of media organisations in Ghana face problems when it comes to financing their operations. The resulting effects, according to the organization, reflects in “low salaries and poor working conditions for journalists.”
“Frequently, new newspapers are launched only to fold in a few months, due to the inability to meet production costs. State-owned media, for their part, benefit from government advertising contracts and payment for publishing news items. Government advertising is awarded through a non-transparent and inequitable process,” it added.
Safety of journalists
The index report by RSF stated that the safety of journalism in Ghana has deteriorated sharply in recent years.
The report pointed to the coverage of the effectiveness of Government’s COVID-19 measures noting that security forces attacked reporters during the period.
It also mentioned death threats being issued against investigative journalists by some politicians as well as the failure of the state in pursuing cases of attacks on journalists on law enforcement agencies.
“Journalists’ safety has deteriorated sharply in recent years. In 2020, reporters covering the effectiveness of anti-Covid-19 measures were attacked by security forces. And political leaders are again making death threats against investigative journalists. Nearly all cases of law enforcement officers attacking journalists are not pursued,” the index report said.