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THE SORRY STATE OF THE MEDIA AMID THE INFLUX OF POLITICAL OWNERSHIP IN CONTEMPORARY GHANA, THE WAY TO GO

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From a wired relay station opened in a small bungalow in Accra way back in July 1935 to a gramophone record comprising of martial and lights with the coded name “ ZOY ” , Ghana experience her first broadcasting and media services through the able assistance of the then Governor of Gold Coast, Sir Arnold Hodson popularly known back in the days as (Governor Sunshine) and British Radio engineer F.A.W Byron.

Fast-forward in 1953 on the account of a recommendation by a committee, broadcasting was formalized with the formal name Gold Coast Broadcasting Services(GCBS) and later after independence renamed as Ghana Broadcasting Services (GBS) now Ghana Broadcasting Cooperation (GBC).
Gone are the days where GBC was the only authentic and trusted source for news, entertainment , music and information. Listeners were glued and bedazzled to voices of the good old Joe Lartey’s, Kwabena Yeboah, Kwabena Aggyapong, Gifty Anti, Abdul Haye Moomen’s and many others.
The voices of the above mentioned greats were the cynosure of credible,reliable and quality services in the media landscape.
THE FALLING STANDARDS
Ensuing the late 90’s where GBC lost it “privilege’ state-sponsored monopoly status, against the backdrop of the influx of private ownership to media platforms, the funding sources of these private media houses in the current media ecology has one way or the other afflicted the public service mandate of the media.
In the new media ecology, public interest is interpreted as what the public is interested in,market place is interpreted as where individual preferences are met and media ethics has been substituted with what I call Ownership Control Preferences ( OCP) .
Oftentimes, the media like a firearm, is like a tool and a weapon that operates as the source of communications and a weapon since it
possesses the potential to influence, incite and mislead. The media ownership in a multiparty state has seemingly become problematic as far as professionalism and ethics of journalism are concerned.
Dal Zotto and Picard 2016, said private ownership are problematic because owners can use it for private interest, corporate ownership can put private goals ahead of social goals, big companies can control the content and market.

A true reflection of Picard and Dal’s analogy is the increasing dominance of politicians owning almost 70% of Radio ,Television, Newspapers and all media portals in Ghana. The traditional role of informing, entertaining and educating has been seemingly overtaken by the dictates and interest

of the political owners. The saddest aspect is that employees expected to act on professional tangent are been utilized as puppets to incite a section of the populace and propagate their party’s views. Today the media ecology is so polarized that Radio frequency is given to the highest bidder or the politically connected individuals. Almost all shows discussed on Tv and Radio, articles published in newspapers have an intentional political pattern. Programs on Radio and Tv are deliberately crafted to disseminate party views. Social subjects are discussed on party lines , commercials are allocated per the specific cabal your media forms part.

Surrogates of the political elites have infiltrated the media space masquerading as journalists without any proper professionalism,training or work ethics.Editorial philosophies are no more privileged on nation building nor a vanguard of patriotism instead editorials are crafted with manufactured consent with the aim of either creating uncertainty or ferrying fabrications to the advantage of the political ownership.

Nelson Mandela once sad in 1990 that, it’s always seems impossible until it’s done. Salvaging the fallen standards of the media as well as addressing the influence of political ownership might seem byzantine looking that the geo-partisan nature of our country.

The National Communication Authority (NCA) as the regulatory body must girt their lions with the penchant to crack the whip on media houses who step on the toes of the governing laws and Acts of the NCA.
NCA,NMA,GIBA and other regulatory agencies must reevaluate their regulations to accommodate the demands of time . The regulatory agencies must be fully resourced, NCA and NMC must as a matter of urgency review the requirements and prerequisites to opening a media house and inculcate much stricter regulations to safeguard the ship from sinking.

The code of conduct with which the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) operates with must be subject to restructuring and reconstruction underpinned with a full legal backing in other to empower the GJA to issue stricter sanctions on recalcitrant journalists whose unprofessional behavior brings the integrity of the association to disrepute.

The Incessant acquisition and control of the media by politicians have overtly and covertly influenced our journalistic atmosphere with contrasting practices that opposes the proper journalistic requirements. This continues infiltration of our media ecology with politically induced ownership,agenda and programs are catastrophic threat to the peace and security of our beloved country and for that matter our media space must be resolved, safeguard, and be protected by a national consensus as one of our patriotic duties.

By: ANSAH FREDA NARTEY
STUDENT OF GIJ