|Official Country Name:||Republic of Ghana|
|Region (Map name):||Africa|
|Language(s):||English (official), African languages|
|Area:||238,540 sq km|
|GDP:||5,190 (US$ millions)|
|Number of Television Stations:||11|
|Number of Television Sets:||1,730,000|
|Television Sets per 1,000:||87.0|
|Number of Radio Stations:||21|
|Number of Radio Receivers:||4,400,000|
|Radio Receivers per 1,000:||221.2|
|Number of Individuals with Computers:||60,000|
|Computers per 1,000:||3.0|
|Number of Individuals with Internet Access:||30,000|
|Internet Access per 1,000:||1.5|
Background & General Characteristics
Ghana has a vibrant press that plays a key role in political discourse, national identity, and popular culture. Emerging in the nineteenth century, the news media have given voice to popular campaigns for independence, national unity, development, and democracy throughout the twentieth century, establishing a distinguished history of political activism for Ghanaian journalism.
The first newspaper, The Gold Coast Gazette and Commercial Intelligencer, was published from 1822-25 by Sir Charles MacCarthy, governor of the British Gold Coast settlements. As a semi-official organ of the colonial government, the central goal of this Cape Coast newspaper was to provide information to European merchants and civil servants in the colony. Recognizing the growing number of mission-educated Africans in the Gold Coast, the paper also aimed at promoting literacy, encouraging rural development, and quelling the political aspirations of this class of native elites by securing their loyalty and conformity with the colonial system.
The appropriation of print media by local African elites began in mid-century with the publication of The Accra Herald by Charles Bannerman, son of a British lieutenant governor and a princess from the Asante royal family. Handwritten like MacCarthy's former colonial paper, The Accra Herald was circulated to some 300 subscribers, two-thirds of them African. Enduring for 16 years, the success of Bannerman's paper stimulated a proliferation of African-owned newspapers in the late nineteenth century, among them Gold Coast Times, Western Echo, Gold Coast Assize, Gold Coast News, Gold Coast Aborigines, Gold Coast Chronicle, Gold Coast People, Gold Coast Independent, and Gold Coast Express.
Historians of the Gold Coast press tend to explain the indigenous enthusiasm for newspapers in terms of an overall strategy by native elites to gain political power. The early Gold Coast weeklies were critical of the colonial government, denouncing specific officials and opposing policies. While the editorial positions of these papers expressed an adversarial stance, the erudite English and ostentatious vocabulary so common to journalism in this period indicates a more complex and attenuated political desire to establish an exclusive class identity as African elites while striking up a gentlemanly conversation with British officials over conditions in the colony. With occasional exceptions, the British adopted a comparatively tolerant approach to the local press in the Gold Coast, as in other non-settler colonies, colonial territories that had no substantial population of European settlers. Discussing British policy in non-settler colonies, author Gunilla Faringer points out in Press Freedom in Africa that "the colonizers were more concerned with establishing trade bases and making a profit than with exercising political domination."
Frustrated in their attempts at exercising political power within the colonial order, indigenous elites became increasingly opposed to colonial authority in the early twentieth century. The gentlemanly dialogue of nineteenth century newspapers transformed into full-blown anticolonial protest in the newspapers of the 1930s. Newspapers demanded that citizens be given political rights, improved living standards, and self-government. As the political agenda of Gold Coast journalism radicalized, newspapers began reaching out beyond the circle of elites, appealing to rural leaders and the urban poor with a more accessible language and fiery oppositional outcry. In 1948, political activist Kwame Nkrumah started The Accra Evening News, a publication stating the views of the Convention People's Party (CPP). Largely written by party officials, this inflammatory newspaper incessantly repeated the popular demand for "Self-government Now!" while launching angry attacks against the colonial government.
In contrast, the London Daily Mirror Group, headed by British newspaper magnate Cecil King, established The Daily Graphic in 1950. The Graphic sought to maintain a policy of political neutrality, emphasizing objective reporting by local African reporters. With its Western origin, The Graphic sought to position itself as the most professional newspaper in the Gold Coast at the time.
Lead by the anticolonial press and Nkrumah's CPP, Ghana achieved independence in 1957, becoming the first colony in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from the British and win political autonomy. As the leader of independent Ghana, Nkrumah became president in 1960 when a new constitution established the nation as a republic. At independence, four newspapers were circulating in Ghana; within a few years Nkrumah had come to dominate them all. Crafting an African form of socialism, Nkrumah saw media as an instrument of state authority, using newspapers as propaganda tools to build national unity and popular support for the ambitious development projects of the new government. Influenced by Lenin, Nkrumah orchestrated a state information apparatus through a hierarchical network of institutions, including the Ministry of Information, Ghana News Agency, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, and his own press, Guinea Press, Ltd., that published two daily newspapers, one free weekly, and several specialized publications. One of these, Nkrumah's own Evening News, became a "kind of Pravda of the CPP," dominated by party news and adulations of Nkrumah.
Rejecting the commercialism of the private press as politically irresponsible, Nkrumah harassed the remaining private papers and eventually purchased The Daily Graphic in 1963, incorporating the paper into his state apparatus. The Kumasi-based Ashanti Pioneer, founded in 1939 by John and Nancy Tsiboe, remained defiant in the 1950s and early 1960s, animated by regional opposition to Nkrumah. After repeatedly subjecting the paper to censorship, eventually Nkrumah shut down the paper in 1962. The editor of the Pioneer was detained for seven months and the city editor spent four and half years in detention in Fort Ussher Prison for criticism against the government.
In 1966, Nkrumah was overthrown by a military coup lead by the National Liberation Council (NLC). In contrast to state domination under Nkrumah, the NLC took a more libertarian approach to the news media: releasing independent journalists from prison, closing down the more blatant instruments of state propaganda, and lifting forms of censorship and bans on foreign journalists. However, most media were then owned by the state and therefore obliged to change their editorial positions overnight, extolling the virtues of Nkrumah and African socialism one day, then lambasting the violence and corruption of his regime the next. While the president of the NLC publicly encouraged "constructive" criticism and the free flow of information, the main newspapers continued to experience indirect forms of state patronage and influence.
Ghana has been ruled by a series of military regimes and democratic republics since the late 1960s. In the midst of this political oscillation, the media have been subject to alternating policies of libertarian tolerance and revolutionary control. In 1981, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings seized power from the democratically elected government of Hilla Limann. Following in the footsteps of Nkrumah, Rawlings summoned the media to actively promote revolutionary ideals of the ruling party PNDC (later NDC) while whipping up popular enthusiasm for the participatory projects of the state. The editorial staff of the state media were reshuffled or dismissed and the editorial policies of the state media were strategically shaped to suit the interests of the new regime. Throughout the 1980s, the state media apparatus applied a variety of techniques of official and unofficial censorship, including repressive laws, public intimidation and harassment, bans on oppositional publications, and arrest and detention of dissident journalists. In order to avoid state harassment, many newspapers avoided politics altogether and focused on sports reporting instead.
In 1992, Ghana returned to democratic rule with the ratification of a new constitution. Rawlings was twice elected President, first in 1992 and then again in 1996. In the democratic dispensation, Rawlings lifted the newspaper licensing law, allowing for the reemergence of the private press in the early 1990s. Newspapers such as The Independent, the Ghanaian Chronicle, The Free Press, and The Statesman gave voice to the angry opposition silenced in years of repression, prompting Rawlings to repeatedly denounce the private media as politically irresponsible and selfishly motivated by profit. Throughout the 1990s, the two state dailies, Ghanaian Times and Daily Graphic, continued to represent the interests of the ruling-party NDC government. In the 1996 presidential campaign, the premier state paper, the Daily Graphic, regularly featured a front page story celebrating the popu-list agenda of the state, accompanied by a large color photograph depicting the stately figure of Rawlings wielding a pickaxe or driving a bulldozer to launch a development project. These flattering portrayals were often countered in the private press by accusations of drug abuse and violent authoritarianism, featuring older photographs of a militant young Rawlings dressed in fatigues and mirrored sunglasses.
After nineteen years of Rawlings and the NDC, Ghanaians elected John Agyekum Kufour of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as their new president in December 2000. While urging the media to be responsible, President Ku-four has advocated free expression, political pluralism, and an independent media as important elements of liberal democracy—a dramatic shift from Rawlings' furious condemnations of the private press. However, President Kufour's liberal policies were challenged by a national state of emergency in April 2002 involving the assassination of the Dagomba traditional ruler and twenty-eight others in the northern city of Yendi. The Minister of Information, Jake Kufour, who is also the President's brother, has come under criticism in the midst of the crisis for requesting that journalists clear their stories on the Yendi tragedy with the Ministry in the interests of "caution, circumspection, and wisdom."
Currently about 40 newspapers are published in Ghana. The state funds two daily newspapers and two weekly entertainment papers. Daily Graphic and its entertainment weekly, The Mirror, are produced in Accra by the state-funded Graphic Corporation. Ghanaian Times and its affiliate, Weekly Spectator, are produced by the state-funded Times Corporation, also in Accra. Daily Graphic boasts a circulation of 200,000 while Ghanaian Times reports 150,000. Graphic andoperate offices in all 10 regional capitals and both are distributed throughout the 10 regions via train, bus, and courier, though travel delays result in lag times of up to a week in more remote areas. In the 1970s, the government used the air force and Ghana Airways flights to minimize delays in delivery to the regions. Daily Graphic is the most common newspaper encountered outside Accra.
Around 16 independent newspapers provide national political coverage. The four most influential independent newspapers are The Ghanaian Chronicle, The Independent, The Free Press, and Public Agenda. In 1996, Maja-Pierce quoted the circulation figures for Chronicle at 40,000, Independent at 35,000, and Free Press at 70,000; though the editors for these newspapers more recently report higher numbers. With few exceptions, private newspapers are produced in Accra and circulation is concentrated there as well; though the major independents can regularly be found in Cape Coast, Kumasi, and Tamale. The commonality of English, higher literacy rates, and urban wealth all contribute to a reliable audience for independent papers in the capital. From the standpoint of production, journalists writing political stories in Accra regularly produce new stories of national relevance, while stories from the regions are more occasional and generally less sensational. However, a few independent papers regularly include coverage of regional news, following the example of the state press by maintaining offices and correspondents in the regions. The Ghanaian Chronicle has regional offices in Cape Coast, Kumasi, Takoradi, Koforidua, and Ho. The Independent maintains a regional office in Kumasi.
Despite the limitations, a few private newspapers are published outside the capital. These exceptions include Ashanti Pioneer in Kumasi and The New Ghanaian in Ta-male.
To capitalize on circulation, the major private papers tend to come out on different days of the week, i.e., Chronicle on Monday, Statesman on Tuesday, The Independent on Wednesday, etc. In addition to circulation, another reason stems from the production process: since many of the private political papers use the same printer, the major print jobs must be staggered throughout the week. While competing against one another journalists in the private press nonetheless express a sense of solidarity against the state press. Strung together throughout the week, the private newspapers together comprise a daily independent paper, they often say, within political and economic conditions that have prevented the maintenance of such a paper.
With the privatization of the economy and opening up to global markets, growing interest in economic matters has prompted the emergence of a number of weekly and fortnightly papers devoted to business and finance. Five newspapers specialize in this area: The Business Chronicle, Business and Financial Concord, Business and Financial Times, Business Eye, and Financial Guardian.
English is the language of state in Ghana and all newspapers are published in English. This has not always been the case. During the colonial period, missionaries published materials in local languages and a few indigenous entrepreneurs published newspapers in the Akan languages of southern Ghana. After independence, local-language newspapers were produced in literacy campaigns by the Bureau of Ghana Languages, or else by churches for evangelical purposes. These papers have had limited circulation and livelihood. While newspapers have neglected local languages, many FM radio stations have introduced very popular local-language programs in Accra and in the regions. Particularly popular are the callin programs, where disc jockeys and callers alternate between local languages and English in discussions of local, national, and global events.
By far the most prosperous news organization in Ghana is Graphic Corporation, followed by Times Corporation; both are funded by the state. With a roomful of computers, several company vans, access to world news services, more sophisticated color printing, available newsprint, and a large, well-paid staff, Graphic Corporation is able to produce a newspaper that resembles the Western prototype. Since Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times consistently support the agenda of the state, the professional quality of the state media serves an ideological purpose, symbolizing the stability, reliability, and accumulation of the state.
The major private papers represent distinct ideological perspectives and social groups but all face similar adverse conditions, including high printing costs, lack of equipment, exclusion from state functions, hostile or fearful sources, and difficult access to timely world news. In the early 1990s economic conditions were so harsh that private newspapers could only afford to publish weekly, though many now appear biweekly and Ghanaian Chronicle comes out three or four times a week. Unable to break the daily news, the weekly private papers turned to political commentary and investigative stories in order to compete with the state dailies. In addition to state competition, the systematic exclusion of private journalists from state sources and assignments, combined with lack of access to wire services, has forced private journalists to design an alternative set of journalistic techniques, incorporating anonymous sources and popular rumor, resulting in a unified challenge to the conservative messages in the state media.
A copy of the premiere state paper, Daily Graphic, sells for 1,500 cedis or about 20 cents U.S., while most of the private papers, such as Ghanaian Chronicle and The Independent, are priced at 1,000 cedis, roughly 13 cents U.S. Although this may seem quite reasonable by American standards, minimum wage in Ghana is 5,500 cedis a day so most urban working people and rural farmers cannot afford to buy newspapers on a regular basis. The purchasing audience for the press is the white-collar working class, a growing stratum of society since the early nineties. However, in recent years the economy has slipped into a precarious condition and often newspapers are considered discretionary expenditures by this class. Most government offices, diplomatic missions, and expatriate businesses subscribe to one or both state dailies.
Nevertheless, newspapers are a ubiquitous feature of everyday life in urban Ghana. At neighborhood markets and most major intersections, crowds gather every morning and afternoon to check out the lead stories of all the current newspapers that hang across the frames of the wooden kiosks. Top stories from the major newspapers are reported and analyzed on the morning shows of many television and radio stations. People who buy newspapers often read the stories to an audience on the bus or taxi, in the office or market. Once read, a paper is never thrown away but passed around for others to read, reaching as many as 10 readers who could relay the news to a network of hundreds. Newspapers are saved and resold for use as packaging for local street foods such as fried yam or roasted maize.
In Ghana, newsprint is purchased through a central government agency, with allocations made according to circulation. Editors of private newspapers have complained that the state media receive a preferential share of available newsprint when supplies are scarce. Since 1993 the price of newsprint has increased over 300 percent, making it extremely difficult for private papers to turn a profit and stay in business. As a result, the state-funded press endures comfortably, a few private papers with established readership struggle to stay in print, while the vast majority of private papers come and go.
The government supplies a substantial amount of advertising to the state press, providing revenue beyond official state provisions. Moreover, in an uncertain political environment, many local businesses are still somewhat wary of public association with the opposition, therefore avoiding the private press and cautiously placing their ads in the state press. Foreign businesses patronize the state press almost exclusively. Advertising in the state press is not merely political, but pragmatic as well, as the state papers are daily and printed on more advanced equipment, giving a more professional appearance. As editor-publisher Kabral Blay-Amihere notes, most private papers "rely on very primitive printing facilities and therefore appear irregularly and are not well-packaged."
Although the competition for readership is intense, the sense of solidarity among journalists is remarkably strong. Ghanaian journalists are not unionized, but the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), founded in 1949, brings all media practitioners in Ghana together for programs, lectures, and workshops designed to promote press freedom and professionalism. On the decline in the 1980s, the GJA was revitalized under the charismatic leadership of Kabral Blay-Amihere in the 1990s. Among many accomplishments, Blay-Amihere organized funding from the European Community in 1993 to house the GJA in a refurbished Ghana International Press Centre located near Kwame Nkrumah Circle. After two terms as president of GJA, Blay-Amihere was elected president of the West African Journalists Association and Mrs. Giftie Afenyi-Dadzie became the next GJA president, exemplifying the vigorous contribution of women to Ghanaian journalism. Among the most popular GJA events are the annual State of the Media conference and the Awards Dinner-Dance. A very prominent professional organization in Ghana, the work of the GJA is supported by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the British Council, Westminster Foundation, United States Information Agency, the German Embassy, UNESCO, M-NET, Ashanti Goldfields Company, UNILEVER, and the Ministry of Information of Ghana. Active both regionally and globally, the GJA is a member of the West African Journalists Association (WAJA), the Union of African Journalists, the Commonwealth Journalists Association, the International Organization of Journalists, and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
In the first few months of his administration, President Kufour donated a building to the GJA to be renovated as a new International Press Centre. In March 2002 GJA President Affenyi-Dadzie launched a fundraising effort to raise the 5 billion cedis ($600,000 U.S.) necessary to complete the project. The government has pledged 10 million cedis. The new venue would become the most advanced press center in the West African sub-region.
Chapter 12 of the 1992 Constitution guarantees the freedom and independence of the media. Article 2 explicitly prohibits censorship, while Article 3 preempts any licensing requirements for mass media. Editors and publishers are shielded from government control, interference, or harassment. When the content of mass media stigmatizes any particular individual or group, the media are obliged to publish any rejoinder from the stigmatized party.
Journalists welcomed the liberal provisions of the constitution, hailing the 1990s as a new era of free expression in Ghana. Many private newspapers that had been prohibited by Rawlings' own 1989 newspaper licensing law suddenly reappeared, full of antigovernment criticism and eager to exercise the new freedoms. Despite the letter of the law, the Rawlings government continued to pressure the state press and intimidate the private press, resorting to more indirect techniques of control. State journalists whose opinions or news stories diverged from the ruling party line were chastised, demoted, or sent away on "punitive transfer" to remote offices in the regions, often to places where they did not speak the local language. As the private press investigated corruption among Rawlings' own cabinet, many state officials retaliated with civil and criminal libel suits against private journalists. Since journalists are prohibited from reporting on a story once it has gone to court, such libel cases had the effect of stalling the investigation while channeling the controversy out of the public eye and into the court system where state officials might expect a more sympathetic audience.
The deployment of the legal system against the press dates back to the colonial period. Many specific laws used to silence and intimidate the press in recent years bear very close resemblance to those crafted by the British to squelch anticolonial criticism among indigenous elites in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Beginning in 1893 the British passed a series of Newspaper Registration Ordinances to keep track of all editors and publishers and prohibit any offensive publications. In the 1930s, the British responded to the rising tide of nationalist agitation by instituting the Criminal Code (Amendment) Ordinance, defining broad categories of sedition, including racial or class antagonism. The British were quick to bring cases of libel or sedition against journalists who criticized colonial officials or policies in print.
Signaling his commitment to free expression and independent media, President Kufour repealed the seditious criminal libel law in 2001. While commending the media for their important role in the democratic process, Kufour has nonetheless emphasized that journalists must write responsibly and "pursue objectives that can spearhead the development of the country." Denouncing the pressures of commercialism, Kufour has warned the press against falsely damaging the reputations of public figures. He has called on Ghana Journalists Association to "check any excesses" in the press. While President Ku-four is widely recognized as a friend of the media, such rhetoric is strikingly reminiscent of so many early warnings of previous Ghanaian leaders who subsequently turned to the legal system to intimidate and silence the press.
In 1979, the government established an independent Press Commission to insulate both state and private media from state control while serving as a buffer between the state and the state media, in particular. With the suspension of the Constitution in the 1981 military coup, the state again asserted control over the state media and harassed the private press to near extinction. In 1992 democratization reintroduced the Press Commission, renamed the National Media Commission (NMC) in the new Constitution. The NMC is charged with promoting freedom and independence of media, ensuring the maintenance of professional standards, protecting the state media from government control, appointing members to the Boards of Directors, or governing bodies of the state media, and regulating the registration of newspapers.
The Commission is comprised of fifteen members, including representatives of the following: the Ghana Bar Association, private press publishers, the Ghana Association of Writers and Ghana Library Association, the Christian Group (including the National Catholic Secretariat, the Christian Council, and the Ghana Pentecostal Council), the Federation of Muslim Councils and Ahmadiyya Mission, journalism and communications training institutions, the Ghana Advertising Association and the Institute of Public Relations, and the Ghana National Association of Teachers. In addition, two representatives are nominated by the Ghana Journalists Association, another two are appointed by the President, and three are nominated by Parliament. Following the elections of December 2000, parliament and the new president made their nominations to the NMC and the new members were subsequently sworn into office in May 2001.
Fulfilling their directive to uphold media standards, the National Media Commission issued a statement in April 2002 taking public exception to "obscene and explicit pornographic pictures" recently published in the Weekend News and Fun Time magazine. The Commission advised newspaper editors and publishers to be guided by public morality, decency, and professional ethics.
Since the establishment of the state media, state journalists have enjoyed a privileged relationship to government sources, information, documents, and resources. This privilege is both formal and informal. The government requests the presence of state journalists at daily "invited assignments" to state events and press conferences. At these events, state journalists are provided with official commentary as well as the printed speeches, facilitating the quick newswriting necessary for daily newspapers. The organizations of the state media post permanent correspondents to cover the president at the Castle Osu, the seat of the Ghanaian executive. Many state officials will only talk to state journalists, never private ones. Through daily involvement with government officials, state journalists develop very cordial and cooperative relationships with them. As journalists rely on these state sources for their daily supply of news stories, state journalists are quite concerned to protect these mutually rewarding relationships and hardly ever publish critical or oppositional stories about the government.
Journalists with the private press were systematically excluded from state sources and information throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Following the lead of Rawlings, who vehemently denounced the private press at any public opportunity, state officials in the Rawlings administration were quite hostile to private journalists, denying documents and refusing interviews. Lacking official sources, private journalists were forced to rely on anonymous tips and rumors for information about the state. Frequently, ordinary people were afraid to be quoted in the oppositional private press as well. Private journalists invented alternative forms of journalistic writing and news-gathering to accommodate these restraints, often mixing anonymous and rumored information with reports in the state media to generate alternative accounts of state activities.
Until very recently, private journalists were not welcome at the Castle. Not only were they not invited to cover state events, they would be turned away if they showed up to cover the story. Under President Kufour, things have changed dramatically. Private news organizations have been invited to post permanent representatives to the Castle and Kufour invites both state and private journalists to accompany him on official visits both nationally and internationally.
Attitude Towards Foreign Media
Ghana maintains a liberal approach to foreign media and correspondents. Resident in the capital are representatives of Agence France Presse, Associated Press (AP), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Bridge News, Cable News Network (CNN), Canale France Internationalle (CFI), Panafrican News Agency (PANA), Reuters, Union of Radio and Television Network of Africa (URTNA), and Voice of America (VOA). Most of these are local Ghanaians with distinguished reputations in Ghanaian journalism and strong global connections. In general they carry out their work without government interference or harassment. Outgoing information is not censored.
Incoming information is also free-flowing, though somewhat limited to elite audiences due to cost. Foreign publications such as Time and Newsweek are sold at the larger news kiosks. Foreign newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post can be purchased in major hotels. BBC News is broadcast on GTV and local radio stations. CNN is available to cable subscribers.
Lamenting the distorted images of Africa in the international media, Nkrumah set up the Ghana News Agency in 1957 to provide more balanced representation of local, national, and continental news. Reuters initially provided guidance and technical assistance but the Agency was fully Africanized in 1961. GNA was the first wire service to be established in Africa south of the Sahara and long considered the most efficient news agency in the region. As part of the information apparatus, GNA was central to Nkrumah's effort to monopolize the production and distribution of news at home while monitoring the flow of information and images from Ghana to the outside world.
GNA was originally situated within the Information Services Department but in 1960 became a statutory corporation with a board of directors chosen by the head of state. Since 1992 the National Media Commission selects the members of the board in order to prevent state control of the Agency.
GNA maintains offices throughout the regions and districts of Ghana, channeling news stories to the head office located in the Ministries neighborhood of Accra. The Agency used to have international bureaus in major cities in 10 countries, including Lagos, London, Moscow, Nairobi, and New York; however, funding cuts have forced all but the London office to close. Over 140 organizations and diplomatic missions subscribe to the news service, which provides home news, foreign news, African news, features, and advertising. GNA has news exchange agreements with Reuters, Agence France-Presse, TASS, PANA, Zinhua (Chinese News Agency) and DPA (German News Agency).
Radio was introduced into the Gold Coast in 1935 when the colonial governor set up a small wired relay station, ZOY, to transmit BBC programs to some three hundred colonial residents and privileged native elites. Service was subsequently extended to Kumasi, Sekondi, Koforidua, and Cape Coast. British radio not only provided information and entertainment but also a means of countering the anticolonial campaigns of the nationalist press. In 1954, Gold Coast Broadcasting System was established, later becoming Ghana Broadcast Corporation (GBC) after independence in 1957.
GBC provides two domestic radio services, Radio 1 and Radio 2, broadcasting from Accra. Radio 1 is devoted to local-language programs, broadcasting in Akan, Ga, Ewe, Nzema, Dagbani, Hausa, and English. Radio 2 transmits in English. Both stations operate for 15 and one-fifth hours on weekdays and 17 and a half hours on weekends. The wireless Radio 3 has been discontinued due to scarce resources. In 1986, GBC began broadcasting in VHF-FM in the Accra-Tema metropolitan area, assisted by the German government. Expanding FM service, GBC opened new FM stations in the regions and districts of Ghana in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Radio GAR operates in Accra, Garden City Radio in Kumasi, Twin City FM in Sekondi-Takoradi, and Volta Star Radio in Ho. There are around 2.5 million wireless sets in Ghana, in addition to over 64,000 wired loudspeaker boxes.
Though many thought the 1992 Constitution provided for liberalization of the airwaves, the Rawlings government refused to grant licenses or allocate frequencies to private radio stations until the mid-nineties, maintaining a monopoly on radio with the state-owned GBC. In 1994 opposition politician Charles Wereko-Brobby protested this policy with a series of pirate broadcasts, the infamous Radio Eye. Though the government pressed for criminal prosecution of Wereko-Brobby and confiscated his equipment, his provocative action ultimately pressured the government to allow private FM stations. In 1995, the government began allocating licenses and frequencies through the Frequency Registration and Control Board. The first FM license was granted to Radio Univers, the small college station produced at the University of Ghana at Legon. Radio licenses are awarded for seven years, for an initial fee of $5,500. In addition, an annual broadcast fee is collected and distributed to the Copyright Society of Ghana to remunerate artists and musicians. Twelve FM stations currently operate in Ghana, all in Accra or Kumasi. Although most stations focus on musical entertainment, many have news programs and talk shows for discussion of current events in English and Twi. The most popular FM radio stations in Accra are Joy FM, Groove, Vibe, Gold, and Radio Univers.
In 1961 Ghana launched the External Service of Radio Ghana to beam information, propaganda, and messages of support to peoples struggling for freedom and self-determination in all parts of Africa. Programs are broadcast in Arabic, English, French, Hausa, Portuguese, and Swahili. The system now relies on four 100-kilowatt transmitters located in Tema as well as two high-powered transmitters, 250 kilowatts each, in Ejura in the Ashanti Region. Beyond Africa, the service reaches North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. After Rawlings' coup, the External Service was discontinued due to "technical and financial difficulties" and then reinitiated in 1987.
Television was established in Ghana in 1965 by the Nkrumah government in collaboration with Sanyo of Japan. Sanyo wished to promote television in Ghana to support its own television assembly plant in Tema, just outside Accra. Despite Sanyo's commercial impetus, Nkrumah stressed that television should educate citizens for national development rather than merely entertain or generate profit. Radio and television broadcasting were centralized in a single unit, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, housed in a sprawling compound in Accra. Targeted by coup leaders, GBC has frequently been seized for the public announcement of regime changes in so many "dawn broadcasts." Because of this, the GBC compound is surrounded by high walls and barbed wire and guests are obliged to remain in the small reception building outside the compound.
Currently, GBC-TV, or simply GTV, broadcasts from its central studios in Accra to transmitters at Ajankote near Accra, Kissi in the Central Region, Jamasi in the Ashanti Region, and a relay station in Tamale in the Northern Region. In 1986, another transmitter was added in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region and since then others have been added in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region, Han in Upper West Region, Amajofe and Akatsi, both in the Volta Region. Transposers or boosters operate at Ho, Akosombo, Prestea, Sunyani, Oda, Tarkwa, Dunk-wa, and Mpraeso. The Ghana television transmission standard is PAL B-5 with five low power relays. Through these transmitters, 95 percent of Ghana has access to GTV broadcasts. On weekdays, television programming begins at 5:55 AM and concludes at 11 PM. In addition, GTV provides a two-hour education program for schools on weekday mornings. On weekends and public holidays, GTV broadcasts from 6:50 AM to 11:50 PM.
After the privatization of the airwaves, the government gave approval to the allocation of frequencies to private television stations as well. Two private channels, TV3 and Metro TV, went on the air in 1997. In the Greater Accra Region, Multichoice Satellite System offers subscribers access to BBC World Service Television, CNN, Supersports, and M-Net, a South African commercial network offering mostly western movies, music videos, and television serials.
Education & TRAINING
Three programs provide journalism training in Ghana. The majority of journalists in Ghana are trained at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) in Accra. GIJ was founded in 1958, offering two-year diploma programs in both Journalism and Public Relations/Advertising. GIJ also provides a number of short-term courses in advertising, public relations, writing skills, and photojournalism. GIJ has a library with 40,000 volumes for student research and a printing press for instructional purposes. While their first year emphasizes lectures and course work, GIJ students spend their second year on "practical attachments" to various media organizations in Accra, learning the application of journalism techniques on the job while making valuable connections for future employment.
Established in the Pan-African context of the Nkrumah period, GIJ still emphasizes that students should be trained to become "truly African in their professional outlook." GIJ has trained journalists from Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Swaziland, Namibia, and South Africa.
The second training institution, the School of Communication Studies, was founded in 1974 at the University of Ghana at Legon. The School offers a postgraduate training and a master's-level degree in journalism and mass communications. The School of Communications Studies publishes the quarterly journal, Media Monitor, dedicated to the discussion of media issues and promoting high professional standards.
In November 2001 the African Institute of Journalism and Communications (AIJC) announced a Distance Learning Scheme, providing diploma and certificate courses online in journalism, public relations, and marketing. Students throughout Ghana can enroll and access the courses via the Internet, according to Kojo Yankah, President of the Institute. For local students, the AIJC maintains an online center in Asylum Down, Accra.
In addition to formal training, journalists participate in frequent seminars on professional, political, and social issues. The German foundation, Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) is especially committed to educating Ghanaian media to contribute to democracy and development. Working closely with the Ghana Journalists Association and other local media organizations, FES has supported conferences, workshops, seminars, and publications on such topics as electoral coverage, private broadcasting, rural reporting, women in media, environmental reporting, professional ethics, and the state of the media in Ghana.
Ghana has a vigorous press with a distinguished political history. Journalism plays a crucial role in contemporary processes of democracy in Ghana, providing a common sphere of dialogue among diverse political and economic interests as well as the voices of popular culture. Journalists have enjoyed more freedom, cooperation, and respect in their dealings with the state with President Kufour in office. While seriously concerned about the economic viability of the private press, Ghana-ian journalists are nonetheless optimistic that the political liberalism of the current administration is laying a foundation for the maintenance of press freedom and professionalism in the future.
- 1995: Private newspapers The Independent, Ghanaian Chronicle, and The Free Press break a series of provocative front-page investigative stories alleging corruption among several government ministers. The Rawlings government directs the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to look into the allegations. Government allots licenses and frequencies to the first private FM radio stations in Ghana. Among the first on the air are Radio Univers and Joy FM.
- 1996: In October, CHRAJ reports the interim findings of its eleven-month investigation into press accusations of corruption. The commission censures three government ministers for financial impropriety and/or negligence and further recommends that two pay refunds to the state. President Rawlings issues a White Paper rejecting much of the substance of these findings and refusing its recommendations for reprimand and repayment. Presidential and parliamentary elections held in December, with President Rawlings re-elected to a second term. Media analysts and political observers note that the state media, though insulated from state control, provides more coverage and advertising to the ruling party NDC throughout the campaign. Opposition candidates receive favorable coverage from private papers such as Free Press and Ghanaian Chronicle.
- 1997: The first private television stations, TV 3 and Metro TV, begin operations in Accra.
- 1999: In April, journalists for the state media report the death of the traditional ruler of Asante, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II before the death has been traditionally announced by the elders of Asante, the Asanteman Council. The news is picked up and carried in several newspapers. Outraged at this transgression of "tradition," the Asanteman Council summons all journalists in Kumasi to the Palace, grilling them for the source of the leak and chastising them for publicizing the death without the permission of the Council. Ghana Journalists Association issues an appeal to journalists to "respect time-honored institutions and practices." In June private newspaper editors Harruna Attah of The Statesman and Kweku Baako of The Guide found guilty of contempt of court, each fined the equivalent of five thousand US dollars and thrown in prison for thirty days for continuing to publish details on a story involving First Lady Nana Konadu Rawlings after she had launched a libel case against the papers. Journalists with the GJA form "The Friends of Free Expression" and march to the Supreme Court in protest.
- 2000: Presidential and parliamentary elections held in December. In a run-off election, NPP candidate, John Agyekum Kufour of the New Patriotic Party, defeats former Vice-President John Atta Mills. Observers note more balanced coverage of ruling party and opposition candidates in the state media throughout the campaign. Many private newspapers rejoice at Kufour's victory.
- 2001: Shortly after taking office, President J.A. Ku-four signals his commitment to free expression and independent media by repealing the seditious criminal libel law. The repeal is ratified in parliament with bipartisan support. Unlike his predecessor, President Kufour welcomes both state and private media to the Castle Osu, inviting the private press to send permanent representatives on assignment to the Castle. During the Rawlings period, Castle correspondents came exclusively from the state press. Demonstrating extraordinary support for independent journalism, Kufour donates a building to the Ghana Journalists Association. Parliament and President Kufour make their nominations to the National Media Commission and new members are sworn into office.
- 2002: Ghana hosts the Annual General Meeting of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) in Accra.
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