Supporters of Ghana’s ruling party interrupt TV show
Around 20 supporters of Ghana’s ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) burst into a TV channel studio in the capital, Accra, and interrupted a show being broadcast live. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the authorities to establish who was responsible for this media freedom violation.
One of the commercial breaks in the “United Show Biz” show broadcast on 6 October by United TV, a privately-owned news and entertainment channel, seemed never-ending. After the show finally resumed, host Gloria Akpene Nyarku-Acquah (also known as MzGee), explained that the TV channel’s premises had been “stormed.”
Around 20 individuals identifying themselves as supporters of the ruling NPP had forced their way into the studio, and verbally threatened some of the show participants, some of whom quickly fled. They also demanded to see Kwame Asare-Obeng, a political activist who is one of the show’s regular participants, who was not there that day.
A few days before this incident, a letter from the NPP to the Despite Media Group, United TV’s operator, had been torn up on camera by Asare-Obeng. In this letter, the NPP voiced discontent with the “continuous attack” on its leaders during the show and requested the inclusion of one of its members in order to guarantee “balance.” An angry Asare-Obeng had described the letter as an attempt to interfere in media independence.
This violent intrusion into a TV channel’s premises was an attack on media freedom and editorial independence. The media must be able to operate freely without fear of being intimidated or threatened. We condemn such actions and call on the authorities to pursue their investigation all the way.
NPP national communication director Richard Ahiagbah deplored the incident and insisted that the party’s leadership was not involved. The information ministry also condemned the attack on United TV and reaffirmed its commitment to press freedom. In a Facebook post, the Ghanaian police said it had arrested 16 persons in connection with the incident.