When senior citizen, Sam Jonah sounded the alarm bells that the infamous culture of silence has crept silently into the Ghanaian media landscape, many, especially adherents of the governing party, took him to the cleaners.
Of course, what’s currently going-on in our media space is nothing compared to the brutish repression of the media in the 11-year rule of Rawlings’ Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) military junta.
Nonetheless, in this era too journalists have been killed, maimed and brutalized. Perhaps, the degree lies in the magnitude and the number of such repressive acts on media personnel in the two regimes.
Of course, one wouldn’t have expected any form of media clamp-down in this civil democratic dispensation. Same cannot be said of a military regime, although it shouldn’t also be the norm. But worldwide, that has been the tale of any military government.
This is because no military regime has allowed the media to flourish as one would have expected. This comes in contrast with the free media that is a major feature in any democratic set-up.
In the opinion of Sam Jonah however, the degree of media silence in Ghana today, is so subtle and self-induced that you probably would need a deeper appreciation of the history of Ghanaian politics, to be able to detect what’s going on within the media landscape.
Mr. Jonah argues that the ownership of many of the media institutions makes the media pluralism almost an impossibility. Most of the media owners are themselves politicians. Others are ardent businessmen with affinity to either one of the two leading political parties in the country.
Their businesses flourish when their parties are in power. They therefore pursue either their business fortune or political interest using their media organizations. Thus such media are set up to pursue strictly a parochial plan.
Workers or staff at the radio, television and the print are expected to do the bidding and wishes of their employees. Such employees are not expected to have an individual opinion, while on set or behind the microphone.
The Captain Smart case study & Angel FM case study
Events at Angel FM this week, have confirmed exactly the fears of Sam Jonah. The lead presenter of the station’s flagship-programme-Anopa Bofuo, Godsbrain Smart, popularly called Captain Smart, has been suspended by Mr. Oteng Gyasi, the owner of the Radio Station.
Captain Smart’s crime? He used his radio station to criticize/insult officials of the Akufo Addo administration as well as others within the ruling party. Obviously, it’s Captain Smart’s latest outbursts against the sitting Vice President that is setting him up for a possible dismissal, perhaps after his suspension.
As usual, Captain Smart was in his elements, insinuating that Dr. Mahmoudu Bawumia is not showing that brilliance, he eloquently spoke about when he campaigned for the presidency together with the President, in 2016 and for their re-election in 2020.
In fact, he stated categorically that Dr. Bawumia is not that academic genius he has been pretending to be all these while. Supporters of Bawumia took siege of Captain Smart and even organized a press conference where all manner of invectives were poured on Captain Smart.
What might have irked NPP chiefs and supporters, was Captain’s arrogant and stoical defence of his deliberate insults of the Vice President, without a show of remorse. Many are of the opinion that that might have broken the back of the camel.
Mr. Kwaku Oteng, definitely has no choice than to sacrifice Captain Smart for the sake of his businesses and his political party-the NPP. The business mogul is aware of how ruthless this administration can be to the media, probably including his media group.
Radio Gold has been closed for the last four-five years without any indication that it will ever be re-opened so far as this administration remains in power. The radio station has been singled out as the harshest critic of this administration and for their price, they had to be shut out.
Kwaku Oteng would surely not want same fate as that of Radio Gold. Otherwise, how can Captain Smart, stands a potential dismissal for a game he’s known best; and has played on some of the best and finest individuals in the country, since the day he joined Angel FM from Adom FM?
And so to Dr. Kwaku Oteng, Captain Smart can insult Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, Dr. Kwabena Duffour, Nana Appiah Mensah and other distinguished Ghanaians, insofar as they are not members of the ruling party or the administration.
This is the difference in the current day media silence that Uncle Sam spoke about. It might not be that brutish; but really a silence that is much more poisonous and venomous than the kind that was unleashed on Ghanaians and our media by Rawlings’ PNDC.