Regulatory Authorities - NCA and NMC
National Media Commission
The National Media Commission (NMC) was established in 1993 through the National Media Commission Act – in pursuit of the provisions of Chapter 12 of Ghana's 1992 Constitution – in order ‘to promote and ensure the freedom and independence of the media for mass communication and information’. The NMC deals primarily with media content. It encourages responsible practice of the media and investigates, mediates and settles complaints made against or by the press or other mass media. As a complaint commission, it then can impose to write rejoinders upon media outlets for example. The NMC also regulates the registration of newspapers. The NMC Act explicitly prohibits exercising its regulatory functions to censor or control editorial content.
According to the National Media Policy, there should be at least 30% and 50% local programs on the prime times for radio and television stations respectively. While more than the permitted percentage of foreign programs was broadcasted, a survey from 2010 showed that the media actually aired more than 50% local programs during prime times on radio and television, which conforms to the National Media Policy’s directive.
The composition of the NMC’s board considers several societal groups as well as religious, political and economic groups. The board consists of all in all 12 members which shall elect the Chairman. Three of them are nominated by the parliament and two are appointed by the president. It is thus relatively independent from political influences.
On the other hand, the NMC fully relies on state-funding, the administrative and operational expenses of the Commission including salaries and allowances payable to or in respect of persons serving with the Commission are charged on the Consolidated Fund. This set-up makes the NMC financially vulnerable.
National Communications Authority (NCA)
The National Communications Authority (NCA) is responsible for a fair competition amongst media companies and telecommunication companies. The NCA grants radio frequencies and television licenses to media companies upon application. It also can exact monetary fines and other forms of sanctions including suspension or revocation of licenses/authorizations on owners and entities that violate or fail to comply with the broadcasting conditions. This concerns for example the National Media Policy regulation on area of coverage, according to which TV and radio stations – except the state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation – should not broadcast beyond the region where they are registered. Infractions – when frequencies of different stations interfere - deteriorate the quality of service: a radio listener would not hear a clear sound from affected radio station or the TV audience would watch their favorite program in bad picture quality.
Concerning the telco market, the NCA is not only responsible to promote a fair competition in the telecommunication market, but also to resolve problems between customers and their service providers.
Compliance to the regulation on area broadcasting is low: radio stations on average covered more than 3 regions whiles the television stations had nationwide coverage. As a result, in 2010, 40% of radio stations were experiencing interferences in their transmission. The MOM advisory group of media experts confirmed that this trend is still a problem.
Today, the NCA at least generates significant revenue aside budgetary allocation from administrative charges it imposes especially on telecommunication companies for infractions as well as for application and periodic renewal fees for licenses. The NCA thus gets to enjoy a good measure of financial independence.
On the other hand, the head of the NCA is required by law to vacate office upon the assumption of office a new President and its Board of Directors is also dissolved. The NCA is thus relatively prone to political influence.
The National Media Commission Act 1993.
National Communications Authority 2008 (Act 769)
James Kwasi Oberko (2010). An Assessment of Compliance with Regulations of Selected Media Houses in Accra. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
Electronic Communications Act 2008 (Act 775)
Data Protection 2012 (Act 843)