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As the Nigerian government through the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is on track pursuing the timely delivery of Digital Switch Over (DSO) using region by region rollout, in Ghana, the National Media Commission (NMC) has kicked against moves by the Government to establish a company under its tutelage to manage the platform of the impending digital migration.
According to the chairman of NMC, Mr Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, “this, when done, would make the platform subject to the vagaries of politics and compel media organisations to do the biding of the Government of the day”.
Ghana News Agency (GNA) quotes Gyan-Apenteng as saying at a one-day regional public forum on the constitutional and legal implications of the digital migration in Elmina, that Article 167(c) of the Constitution enjoins the NMC to insulate the state-owned media from governmental control.
NMC made it clear that such move contravened that provision and amounted to state monopoly of the media, which would endanger the freedom and independence of the media if measures were not taken to halt it.
Continuing, he noted that “Digital broadcasting, despite its numerous advantages had several challenges ranging from policy, governance, ownership and legalities, which needed to be addressed before take-off”.
In his submission, Gyan-Apenteng called for the establishment of an independent company to manage the digital platform as Ghana prepared for the digital migration by 2020, saying “Proposing a company, under the direction of the Government, to determine what should be broadcast will undermine the freedom and independence of the media. We need an independent body to manage the infrastructure”.
“This is not about the NMC seeking to take power, but it’s about enjoining the provisions of the Constitution. Media freedom and independence grow directly to the heart of the freedom of a nation,” he added.
NMC boss further argued that “The idea of the digital migration was critically important to the fate of the media because it was not just about providing infrastructure, but also about media content and for that matter, could not be left in the hands of the Government.
“The freedom that the media enjoy today didn’t just happen, people fought for it. What they are trying to do will send us back to the era before the 1992 constitution,” he said.
In his progress report of Ghana’s digital terrestrial migration, the Deputy Executive Secretary of NMC, Mr Alexander Bannerman, disclosed that over 53 transmission sites had been built across the country to facilitate the take-off in order to meet the deadline in 2020.
Business Hilights recalls that NBC boss, Mr. Is’haq Modibbo Kawu recently explained that regional rollout of DSO remains the best option for Nigeria and steady progress is being made as a number of zones have had their states migrated while more are coming on stream.
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