Ghana | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Ghana

Ghana

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

26

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

9

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

9

Freedom of the press is guaranteed by law and is generally respected. The government did, however, criticize the media on several occasions, blaming them for inciting violence and failing to abide by professional guidelines. In April, President John Kufuor's brother sued a newspaper for libel, and several other politicians also filed libel lawsuits against members of the media. In August, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) decided to suspend four journalists and the director of Ghana Television (GTV) when the GTV evening news broadcast a story about Ghana Airways. The story was retracted after some of the information was deemed illegitimate. Despite the retraction and apology, the GBC pursued legal action, causing some media organizations to question the GBC's independence. A draft bill on the right to information is under parliamentary review. The bill has been criticized by media watchdog groups for its potential to constrain free expression.

The media are independent, and open criticism of governmental policies and officials appears regularly in the press. But expanded freedoms of expression recently put in place by the Kufuor administration were tested in the run-up to the presidential elections in December. Authorities flirted with renewed clampdowns on free expression because of inflamed passions, a rambunctious public, and the exuberance of the press. Much of the irritation was directed at radio station phone-in programs. In October, in the northern region where the security situation is already tenuous, the regional Security Council imposed a ban prohibiting inflammatory political content on radio phone-in shows. Several radio stations protested the ban, arguing that it was an attempt to stifle independent and opposition media. The ban was lifted prior to the elections.

The media landscape includes approximately 50 private and state-run newspapers as well as 11 government and 60 private radio stations. Private and public television stations are also available. Foreign media presence is visible. However, limited revenue from advertising and reader subscriptions threatens the financial viability of the media. Poorly paid journalists frequently engage in unprofessional conduct, as in the case of newspapers making up highly sensational news stories.