Pre-Conference Engagement on Media Freedoms in Ghana

Date and Time: 2 pm, Tuesday, 6th November, 2018
Conveners: Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), School of Information and Communication Studies (SICS), University of Ghana, National Media Commission (NMC) and Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
Venue: CDD-Ghana Conference Room, Roman Ridge, Accra

Ghana’s vibrant media has played an important role in the country’s democratization. From its strong advocacy during the country’s struggles for independence and democratic rule to its current watchdog role for society, the Ghanaian media has continually set the agenda on matters of critical importance, sustained the discourse, and effected change. This has earned Ghana a reputation as one of the most media-friendly countries in the world, rising steadily on the World Press Freedom Index from 67th in 2002 to 23rd in 2018, from 19th among African countries to No. 1.

However, popular support for a free media has dropped sharply in Ghana. According to recent Afrobarometer survey data, a majority of citizens now say the government should have the right to prevent the media from publishing things that it considers harmful to society. This is a reversal of attitudes during previous four survey rounds between 2005 and 2014, where a majority of Ghanaians consistently endorsed media freedom from government interference.

The perception of increasing media freedom, on one hand, and growing calls for government control over the media, on the other, presents a puzzle. If the call for government control reflects popular concerns about unethical conduct on the part of some media personnel, this is an issue of concern for media-freedom advocates, as state authorities could, under the pretext of ensuring public tranquility, stifle media independence, as seen in countries like Eritrea, Djibouti, Egypt and Sudan. This event, thus, seeks to bring together the relevant stakeholders to discuss the causes and implications of the declining support for media freedom in the country.

Structure of Event
There would be a presentation of the recent Afrobarometer findings on media freedoms in Ghana, followed by a panel discussion.

About Afrobarometer
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues in African countries. Six rounds of surveys were conducted in up to 37 countries between 1999 and 2015, and Round 7 surveys are being completed in 2018. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples.

The Afrobarometer team in Ghana, led by the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), interviewed 2,400 adult Ghanaians between September 9 and 25, 2017. A sample of this size yields results with a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. Previous surveys have been conducted in Ghana in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2012, and 2014.