With a reputation as one of Africa’s most democratic countries, Ghana enjoys a vibrant and pluralist media environment.
Thanks to the 1992 Constitution authorising new media outlets to launch without a licence, at least 100 media outlets operate in Ghana, including radio stations, television networks and internet sites. The most popular are the state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, and its television and radio stations GBC TV and GBC Radio, in addition to Accra FM, Joy TV, Peace FM and City FM. Recently, the country has seen a major media industry transformation, with many outlets launching online news sites.
Although the country is considered a regional leader in democratic stability, journalists have experienced growing pressures in recent years. To protect their jobs and their security, they increasingly resort to self-censorship, as the government shows itself intolerant of criticism. In addition, one third of media outlets are owned by politicians or by people tied to the top political parties. The content they produce is largely partisan.
Press freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution of 1992. Media are free to operate as they like, in accordance with the regulations of the National Media Commission. The 2019 information access law authorises journalists to demand information of national interest. However, a clause in the law allows a fee to be charged if the information requested is in a language other than English – a provision used to deny journalists’ access to the information they seek.
In Ghana, most media outlets face financial problems, reflected in low salaries and poor working conditions for journalists. Frequently, new newspapers are launched only to fold in a few months, due to inability to meet production costs. State-owned media, for their part, benefit from government advertising contracts and payment for publishing news items. Government advertising is awarded through a non-transparent and inequitable process.
Journalists’ safety has deteriorated sharply in recent years. In 2020, reporters covering the effectiveness of anti-Covid-19 measures were attacked by security forces. And political leaders are again making death threats against investigative journalists. Nearly all cases of law enforcement officers attacking journalists are not pursued.