Nana Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, a former Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC) has called for a review of the composition of the NMC, saying majority of the Commission’s representatives must be persons who are “concerned” with the operations of the media.
He said the current structure where about a third of members of the NMC Board were persons who were not “independent” of the political process “raises issues” about the mandate of the Commission.
He made the call on a virtual meeting on the topic: “Media Regulation and Democracy” hosted by the Department of Communication Studies of the University of Ghana on Wednesday.
“In my opinion, the entire structure of the NMC and its mandate was put up at a time where nobody could foresee (the expansion of the media). For example, if you look at the composition of the NMC, you see that a major part of what the media deals with for example culture, there is virtually nobody from the whole cultural constituency on the NMC.
“…You have six (board members) from political subs that are not kind of independent of the political process. For about 18 people, that is one whole third and that raises issues,” Nana Gyan-Apenteng said.
He added: “The majority (of members) may not be people who are in a daily routine manner even concerned with the operations of the media.”
Nana Gyan-Apenteng said although the Ghana Journalists Association, independent broadcasters, and independent private press operators had representation on the NMC, the current composition must be relooked.
“The Ghana Health Service, or the Medical and Dental Council and these controlling bodies, none of them would have lay people on it. So, we have to look at the media commission again,” he said.
Mr Manasseh Azure Awuni, the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Estate, said the NMC should be given the mandate to distribute broadcast frequencies instead of the National Communications Authority (NCA) performing that function.
He said the NCA “is an extension of the Government in power” and expressed fear that the Authority may uphold the interest of the government against the public interest.
“If we leave the regulation in the hands of the NCA, the likelihood of its abuse is very high,” Mr Awuni said.
Responding to Mr Awuni’s concern, Mr George Kofi Sarpong, the Executive Secretary of the NMC, said the NCA was not a regulator of the broadcasting space but only distributes the broadcast spectrum.
He said the spectrum is “a scarce” resource, adding that it was the mandate of the NCA to ensure an equitable distribution of the spectrum.
“The NCA is only a spectrum manager and not a regulator. NCA is not regulating the broadcasting. It only regulates the spectrum,” Mr Sarpong said.