The Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako has said media freedom in Ghana is not absolute.
He said even though he is sentimental about any form of media censorship, the media has an obligation to work within the remits of the law.
Speaking on Joy FM/MultiTV’s new analysis programme Newsfile, Saturday, Mr Baako said the National Communication Authority (NCA)’s closure of two pro-opposition radio stations Radio Gold and Radion XYZ must be viewed within the context of the law.
He wants to know whether those laws are being discharged capriciously or not?
“It is important to do the discussion in the context of the facts,” he said.
His comment follows NCA officials storming the premises of the two station with armed security personnel and ordered their immediate closure on Thursday.
The two stations were handed letters detailing the reasoning behind the order and asked to re-apply for a fresh license if they still wished to operate as Frequency Modulation (FM) radio stations.
But the decision has since been criticized.
The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association-GIBA has described the shut down as too harsh.
President of the association, Andrew Danso Anninkora, said on Joy News’ TopStory Thursday that, the way out to resolve the impasse is “not the recitation of laws but dialogue.”
“The NCA is being harsh in dealing with its members. NCA in recent times is applying very harsh methods,” he lamented
GIBA is not alone. The Ghana Journalist Association has called for a review of the decision.
According to a statement by the GJA and signed by its President, Affail Monney, the NCA’s action leading to the shut down has the tendency to undermine media freedom in the country.
Mr Baako is in good company.
Private legal practitioner, Akoto Ampaw, has defended the decision of the Authority stating that even though there is freedom of expression, the country is a society governed by laws.
“If the radio station has been shut down for reasons of authorisation and it can be demonstrated that there are no other radio stations that fall in the same bracket but have not been shut down then I don’t think that there is a problem,” he told JoyNews Beryl Ernestina Richter
Sounding conciliatory, Mr Baako urged the NCA to apply the laws with some human face.
According to him, suggestions that the affected stations may not get their frequency back or have their licences renewed “is wrong.”
“Let us find a way of applying some humanity and common sense,” he pleaded.
Mr Baako also urged the affected stations to stop acting in a manner which affects their brand and business.
According to Mr Baako, the radio stations must know that they are a business entity with a regulator. Unfortunately some of these breaches “have gone on for far too long.”