AMB 2017 report: Ghana’s media environment open, free and vibrant

With an upsurge of media outlets across Africa of which Ghana is part, the need to measure the media situation in African countries based on home grown criteria is eminent now more than ever.

It was for this reason that the African Media Barometer (AMB), report was launched in 2008.

The Ghana edition of the AMB report launched in Accra, highlighted issues on freedom of expression, where journalists are seemed to be increasingly facing intimidation from the police and from politicians simply for expressing themselves.

Although the report considered Ghana’s media landscape as open, free and vibrant,the sector still faces challenges.

The report notes that the freedom of expression guaranteed in the constitution and the relative freedom to speech citizens have is undermined by the lack of access to information legislation, and efforts for lobby groups to push for an access to information law have not yielded results.

The report further touched on media pluralism, lack of broadcasting legislation, ethics and professionalism and corruption pointing to what is locally referred to as “solidarity” (Soli).

Since the last AMB report in 2013, very little has been improved in the media environment.

“One of my major concerns has been economic independence. Zakaria Tanko Musah, a lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), said of the journalists.

“Yes we are independent, we are free to do whatever we want to do but if we are not economically independent it gives room for people to use indirect means to control us either through self regulation…” he added.

Charity Binka, the Executive Director of Women, Media and Change (WOMEC), advocated for all media houses to have and implement gender policies to protect men and women at the workplace.

She cautioned the media to eschew from focusing on only negative reports on women.

“All the negative stories of women are captured on the front pages and the good ones hidden,” she averred.

On broadcasting legislation, the Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission (NMC), George K. Sarpong noted that, “framing a broadcasting legislation is a complex thing considering factors such as culture, technology and the proliferation of multiple content platforms and digital migration among others.

The AMB is the first in-depth and comprehensive description measurement system for national media environments on the African continent based on home grown criteria.

The launch of AMB was organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), which only served as a convener of the panel who worked on the report and as a guarantor of the methodology.

By Pamela Ofori-Boateng