Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Ghana: Government rescinds decision to boycott local Multimedia Group on grounds of its alleged anti-NDC “bias”

In a worrying development - albeit one since reversed by the government following criticism from all sides including from within, the party - the National Democratic Congress (NDC) announced a boycott of Accra-based radio and TV operator Multimedia Group (MGL) Limited which is the owner and operator of, amongst other outlets, both Asempa FM and Joy FM. It initially banned MGL representatives from attending government functions and events including those held by the multitude of government ministries and departments. The reasons that were provided mainly centred on Asempa FM decision to end a political discussion programme in late February. This followed an on-site protest by NPP supporters who were claiming radio presenter bias; the subsequent resumption of the programme by a new Asempa presenter; and the apparent failure of Joy FM to report the incident on the news.

The response from the political opposition and from media organizations was immediate, with the Media Foundation for West Africa calling on President John Atta Mills to reverse the decision. The Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) even threatened to take legal action should the boycott not be reversed. As mentioned above, Nana Akufo-Addo voiced his astonishment, and Jerry John Rawlings - while reacting adversely to the suspension of his aide and spokesman Kofi Adams – authorised the latter to appear on a Joy FM programme following the announcement of the NDC boycott of its Multimedia Group parent company.

The subsequent rescinding of the boycott is important in particular as it re-affirms Ghana's commitment to press freedom. Government representatives still maintain, however, that the Multimedia Group has shown bias against the NDC for the past three years.

For more news and expert analysis about Ghana, please see Ghana Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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