The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) has noted "with deep concern" the recent communication by the National Media Commission (NMC) to the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Advertisers Association of Ghana (AAG) regarding a call for the suspension or revocation of Onua TV and Onua FM’s broadcasting authorisations.
GIBA said in a statemwnt signed by its Presidenr, Cecil Sunkwa-Mills, that it "frowns at the actions taken by the NMC in addressing the issue of the alleged ethical journalistic infraction by the two stations for the reasons that, the association believes there are far more avenues to explore in addressing the matter on hand, such as giving the opportunity for fair hearing to the stations rather than pronouncing sanctions upon them to the extent of alerting the Advertisers Association of Ghana of a Notice of Suspension without due process".
GIBA said it "believes that such actions which are tantamount to depriving the stations of their advertising revenue, is unacceptable".
"The fact that the NMC sought to cut-off the life support of the stations by writing to the AAG is damaging", GIBA saidm adding: "GIBA will always advocate for the sanctity and sanity of the broadcast airwaves as we always do, working in collaboration with all institutions and stakeholders".
On Thursday, the NMC wrote to the NCA notifying the latter of "the need to suspend the authorisation of Onua TV and Onua FM".
The letter was in reference to a Memorandum of Cooperation adopted pursuant to section 3(d) of the National Communications Authority Act, 2008 (Act 769).
The NMC complained that "the two stations have become the soundtrack to hateful rhetoric carefully orchestrated to incite ethnic division, provoke mutiny in the armed forces and prey upon the youth for insurrection against the state".
"They have systematically sought to subvert critical national institutions including the Council of State and the Ghana Armed Forces in a manner that constitutes clear and present danger to the public interest", the NMC noted.
In one instance, the NMC said "they expressed the wish to have the Chairman of the Council of State killed. The Chairman, Nana Otuo Serebour, is the Omanhene of Juaben and President of the Juaben Traditional Council in Ashanti with subjects across the entire nation. Beyond the natural disgust of the stations’ wish, the public order implications of wishing a traditional ruler dead is obvious".
In another instance, the Commission said "the stations, through the same presenter, insulted the chiefs and people of the Wiawso Traditional Area forcing them to hold a durbar to perform traditional rituals to declare him persona non grata in their community".
In yet another broadcast, the Commisson said the presenter "insulted the Western Regional Minister as a person without sense who acts like 'Esrem politician'. Esrem is the twi reference for the Northern, Savannah, North East, Upper West and Upper East Regions. Such stereotyping and tribal bigotry, if unchecked, will ultimately lead to ethnic conflict, undermine national cohesion and destabilise the state".
More recently, the Commission said "the stations sought to instigate the Ghana Armed Forces against the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and other Commanders. The stations called the CDS and his Commanders 'beasts' and alleged they embezzled monies meant for peacekeepers. They offered no evidence for the claims. The attacks on the military commanders come in the wake of coup d’etats and mutinies in Niger, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Guinea, Gabon and twice in Mali".
"Currently, there is disquiet in Sierra Leone after gunmen attacked a military barracks. The specific attacks on the CDS and his commanders is reminiscent of the January 1994 broadcast of Rwandan radio attacks on the UNAMIR Commander Romeo Dallaire as part of the genocide playbook", the Commission recounted.