The National Media Commission (NMC) has requested the National Communications Authority (NCA) to suspend the authorization of Onua TV and Onua FM over their alleged attacks on personalities.
According to the Commission, 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.
It revealed that the stations 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.
“We write with reference to our Memorandum of Cooperation adopted pursuant to section 3(d) of the National Communications Authority Act, 2008 (Act 769) to notify you of the need to suspend the authorization of Onua TV and Onua Fm.”National Media Commission
Justifying its stance, NMC stated that in one instance, OnuaTV/FM expressed the wish to have the Chairman of the Council of State killed. It explained that 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 station’s wish”, the Commission noted that the public order implications of wishing a traditional ruler dead is obvious.
“In another instance, 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, he 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 destabilize the state.”National Media Commission
Unprofessional broadcast of Onua TV/FM
More recently, the NMC highlighted that the stations sought to instigate the Ghana Armed Forces against the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and other Commanders. The stations, it revealed, called the CDS and his Commanders “beasts” and alleged they embezzled monies meant for peacekeepers.
To this, the NCA stated that the stations 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.”National Media Commission
Moreover, the NMC emphasized that many attempts have been made to correct the stations and to prevent them from their harmful broadcast, all to no avail.
It further indicated that when they attacked the Council of State, the Council magnanimously invited them together with NMC and other stakeholders to a discussion. At that forum, NMC confirmed that the representative of the stations’ management promised to ensure they complied with professional requirements in broadcasting – a promised they have reneged on.
“When they called for insurrection against the state, the NMC warned them and asked them to retract the broadcast and apologize to the people of Ghana. They ignored the warning and refused to apologize. The management of the stations wrote to NMC in which they expressed no objection to the behavior and rather questioned the legality of NMC’s regulatory action. The Commission then stepped up the complaint to the Board of Directors of the stations. The board found nothing wrong with the behavior of the stations.”National Media Commission
Meanwhile, NMC underscored that it is clear that the dangerous broadcast is deliberate and is sanctioned by the management and board. This, it highlighted, means the Commission cannot rely on the station to change its ways unless regulatory intervention is applied.
Additionally, NMC emphasized that the suspension of the authorization of the two stations will not impact the broadcasting industry in any negative way.
“Ghana is recognised globally as one of the best nations with diverse and plural media. Ghana’s per capita radio and television access is far higher than most democracies in the world. Indeed, some industry analysts argue, debatably, that the broadcasting market is saturated. This means the deliberate decision by two stations to withdraw from broadcast by their unprofessional and dangerous practice, will not affect citizens in any way.”National Media Commission