Country Summary

President Jerry Rawlings’ National Democratic Congress (NDC) government targeted the independent press with legal actions aimed at repressing unfavorable reporting on the state and its officials. Using the Supreme Court’s July ruling that all citizens are subject to provisions under seditious libel laws and a 1960 law prohibiting defamation of the state, among other restrictive laws, the state charged journalists who wrote articles deemed “unacceptable” with seditious libel and contempt of court. Despite the government’s intolerance for “false reporting,” the NDC engaged in smear campaigns against its critics, using newspapers, such as the Ghanaian Palaver, as weapons through which to carry out its vendetta.

The government-owned daily newspapers, the Ghanaian Times and the Daily Graphic, rarely publish articles critical of government policy or state officials. Reporters working for the state media who are accused of unfavorable reporting are vulnerable to disciplinary action or dismissal. Consequently, many state journalists practice self-censorship to avoid government reprisals.

The government controls the principal radio and television stations, which broadcast throughout the country. Despite the Ghana Frequency Registration and Control Board’s (GFRB) non-refundable “commitment fees” of US$20,000 and US$40,000 for radio and television respectively, six independent radio stations and a private television station began operations by year’s end.

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