Regarded as one of Africa’s most democratic countries, Ghana enjoys a vibrant and pluralist media environment. However, the creation of media outlets by politicians has given rise to politicised and biased media content.
Thanks to the 1992 constitution allowing new media outlets to be created without a licence, Ghana has at least 100 media outlets, including radio stations, TV channels and websites. Many privately owned media, such as Joy News, myjoyonline and Peace FM, are very popular and reflect a high degree of pluralism and diversity. They are independent and not subject to political restrictions. The state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, and its TV and radio stations, GBC TV and GBC Radio, have nationwide coverage. There are also community radio stations throughout the country. However, measures taken by the authorities to promote media pluralism have been used by politicians in recent years to create partisan media.
Although Ghana is considered a regional model of democratic stability, journalists have experienced growing pressures in recent years. To protect their jobs and their security, they have increasingly resorted to self-censorship as the government has shown itself to be intolerant of criticism. In addition, a third of the country’s media outlets are owned by politicians or by people with ties to the leading political parties, and the content they produce is largely partisan. The government chooses the National Media Commission’s members but has no influence over the appointment of those in charge of privately owned media outlets.
Freedom of the press is guaranteed by the 1992 constitution. Media outlets are free to operate as they like, subject to the National Media Commission’s regulations. The 2019 law on access to information 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. New newspapers are often launched only to fold within months because they were unable to cover their production costs. State-owned media, on the other hand, are awarded government advertising contracts and are paid for publishing news items. Non-transparent and inequitable procedures are used to allocate state advertising.
Culture has never been an obstacle to practicing journalism in Ghana. There’s a general cultural and religious tolerance in the country, allowing journalists to cover all social issues without any particular difficulty and without the fear of reprisals.
Journalists’ safety has seriously deteriorated in recent years. In February 2022, three journalists were detained in the space of eight days and a fourth was very violently attacked. In May 2022, three unidentified individuals stormed into a radio station, smashed equipment and attacked the host and the producer of the show being broadcast. Politicians have meanwhile continued to make death threats against investigative journalists. Most cases of police violence against journalists are not pursued.