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NMC cannot help you – Ursula tells GBC

The Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has called for cool heads to prevail as she resolves to engage further with stakeholders in the impasse over her directive for the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to reduce its digital terrestrial channels.

She, however, said the National Media Commission (NMC) cannot resolve the matter.

The Director-General of the state broadcaster, Professor Amin Alhassan, on the instructions of the board of governors, had written to NMC to intervene.

“Complying with the request of the Minister will mean GBC has to lose 3 of these channels. It will virtually mean that GBC will have to reduce its operations by half. This request will also impose serious budgetary and human resource challenges on the operations of GBC and, indeed, can collapse the Public Service Broadcaster,” Prof Alhassan stated in his letter dated 7 July 2020.

But speaking on The Key Points on TV3/3FM on Saturday, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said the Commission cannot be involved in this as it has nothing to do with content.

She said it will take her ministry, the Ministry of Information, and GBC itself to resolve the matter.

‘Incendiary comments’

The Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West Constituency also asked all to disregard the “incendiary” comments being passed by critics that this is a ploy to gag the media.

She indicated that several meetings were held not only with GBC but Crystal TV, which also operates more than one channel on the national digital terrestrial television (DTT) network before her directive was issued.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said at no point in the meetings did GBC or Crystal TV raise concerns until the board, management, and staff began agitations recently.

Vice-Chairman of the workers’ union Mark Agodoa, who also appeared on the show, appealed to the Minister of Communications to reconsider the directive as GBC plays a vital role in serving the public.

Mr. Agodoa asked that the issue must not be politicized but rather be considered with the very essence for which the public service broadcaster was established in mind.

All this comes in the wake of a directive by the Communications Minister to GBC to reduce its six channels to three in order to offer redundancy on the DTT network.

This has not gone down well with many including the Minority members in Parliament.

MP for Ningo-Prampram Constituency Sam Nartey George, who has been vociferous in condemning the action, said the motive behind the move is to take the channels from GBC and hand them over to private media firms connected with the government.

He alleged that this action started last year with the takeover of Adwenpa TV, which was not successful as it was later converted to GBC Learning, which later became beneficial to the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) to teach basic school students in the Covid-19 era.

Sam George, a member of the Communications Committee of Parliament, said if that channel had been sold to a private firm, it would not have been available for education.

But Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful denied knowledge of this.

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh||Ghana

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