The Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) has called for the recall of Director-General of the state broadcaster, Dr Kwame Akuffo Anoff-Ntow, who has been forced to proceed on an indefinite leave.
The board of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) earlier this week asked Dr Anoff-Nto, to proceed on leave after he ordered for the setting up of special courts to prosecute defaulters of the unpopular TV Licence fee.
Dr Anoff-Ntow, according to the Information Minister, Mustapha Abdul Hamid, singlehandedly took the decision to cause the Chief Justice to set up the courts, a move that earned government a lot of public backlash.
The special courts have since scrapped.
In a press release issued in Accra on January 18, 2017, the GJA said Dr Anoff-Ntow’s absence from office is causing a lot of anxiety among staff of GBC.
“After a thorough investigation and appreciation of the issues at stake, the GJA believes the decision by the GBC Board was absolutely wrong because it does not wield the power to do so. Article 168 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana vests the power to appoint the chairmen and other members of the governing bodies of the state-owned media in the National Media Commission (NMC).
“By virtue of that constitutional mandate, the NMC is the only body vested with the power to alter the appointment of the chairmen and members of the governing bodies of the state-owned media. In the circumstances, the acts of commission or omission of the Director-General in the discharge of his official duties do not by themselves strip the NMC of its constitutional authority in such respect; neither do they cloth the GBC Board or any other body with authority to do likewise,” said the release signed by GJA General Secretary, Kofi Yeboah.
The GJA further holds that it is not within the realm of the GBC Board to appoint an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to perform the functions of the Director-General.
“That amounts to usurpation of the NMC's constitutional mandate. By acting before officially consulting the NMC on this matter, as has been verified, the GBC Board appears to have put the cart before the horse. That is unacceptable because it has the potential to give our constitutional democracy, particularly the functions of the NMC a rough-ride.”
The Association of Ghanaian journalists is, therefore, appealing to the NMC to as a matter of urgency, intervene in the developments at GBC and recall the Director-General from leave.
Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo’s decision to grant the request of Dr Anoff-Ntow for the setting up of the Special TV Licence Courts to ensure people pay their TV Licence as required by law drew raging condemnation from the public.
Although a section of the public supported the tax, Dr Anoff-Ntow muddied the waters when he stated that the levy is not being charged for owning a television set – which the law stipulates – but for content on GBC.
Domestic TV users are to pay between GHc36 and GHc60 for one or more TV sets in a household, while TV set repairers and sales outlets are to pay an annual sum of between GHc60 to GHc240.
However, many say the programmes on the various outlets of GBC, especially its flagship TV station, GTV, were poorly packaged and hence does not deserve the fee.
Responding to the controversy on current affairs programme, Upfront, on the Joy News channel on Multi TV Thursday, the Information Minister, Mustapha Abdul Hamid said the GBC Director-General was rash in his approach to get Ghanaians to pay the unpopular tax.
“Even the whole understanding about why people should pay TV licence [is not there]...people are not even sure whether TV licence is paid in respect of the sets that people own or in respect of the content that they consume.
“I pointed out to the Director-General that he has not done enough education, that is number one. Number two, he has not put in place proper mechanisms for collecting these levies,” he noted.
Related video below: The discussion on the TV tax starts 10mins into the video