The obligation to pay television licence fees is not a matter for public debate, the Director of Newspapers at Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) has said.

Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh made the comment during a forum organised by the Daily Graphic on Monday on the payment of TV licence fees currently stoking debates among a divided public.

Mr Ayeboafoh said the law is already established and until it is amended or revoked, Ghanaians should be lawful and open to the idea because Ghana is a democratic state and as such must respect the rule of law.

The Director-General of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Major Albert Don Chebe (rtd), said there was a need to address the misunderstanding or the apparent lack of knowledge of the laws regulating TV receiving sets in Ghana.

He explained that the TV licensing Act, 1966 (NLCD 89) as amended has existed since 1966 and has been amended periodically. He made reference to the law establishing the GBC, 1968 (NLCD 226) and the fees and charges (amendment) instrument, 2014 (LI.2216), to aid the ongoing discussions on TV licence.

He stated that Television license fee is not levied because a family watches Ghana Television (GTV) programmes or any particular station but that it is a license for installing and using a TV receiving set.

Major Chebe said although there was the erroneous impression that GBC is partially funded by commercial activities, he said of the variety of funding models available to public broadcasters, Ghana is classified within the countries with a hybrid funding model which rely on license fees, sponsorships, investments and advertising.

TV license fees contribute nothing to its operations, he said, adding that the last time TV license fee contributed some significant figure was in 2009 when it contributed about 1% revenue.

“The implementation and collection of license fees of Gh¢ 36 or the equivalence of 8 euros per TV per year will finally make GBC independent, accountable and completely transparent to all Ghanaians especially Ghanaians who are suspicious of the financial ties between GBC and sitting governments and consequently, GBCs neutrality, particularly during the political season would be guaranteed both in words and in action.”

Adding to the discussions, the Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr George Sarpong said Public Service Broadcasting system can only be secured by insulating GBC from political and commercial pressures.

According to him, it is a public knowledge of the dangers of political institutions controlling any public institutions especially the media, explaining that the constitution under Article 167(c) enjoins the NMC to insulate the state -owned media from governmental control through its mandate, governance and funding obligations.

The President of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), Mr Akwasi Agyeman said there were ongoing consultations between GBC and GIBA on the issue.

He said there are so many areas independent broadcasters do not cover, therefore there was the need for a strong public broadcaster such as GBC. He said when the broadcasting bill is passed, regulation of content will be a top priority thus a percentage will be allocated to local programmes.

Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, CEO of Clean Power and a pioneer private broadcaster in Ghana, was of the view that the entire process of the TV licence re-introduction was based on an illegality and that there was a need for clarity on the law. According to Dr Wereko-Brobby, the NMC announcement of the TV licence re-introduction was inappropriate and that the process was supposed to be initiated by government, a process he said requiring parliamentary approval.

The Managing Director of GCGL, Mr Ken Ashigbe said there was a need to bring together people who understand the issues devoid of partisan politics.

He insisted that professionals should be given the space to critically analyse
issues in order to enrich the discussion and to find sustainable solutions.

Source: Graphic

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