Missing company profiles, doubtable legal status of media conglomerates, veiled imagery of ownership structure, and high levels of audience concentration in some media platforms sums up the findings of a three-month long media ownership monitor research in Ghana.
The research which mapped the ownership structure of media companies in Ghana also identified other flanking issues – inconsistencies of ownership data in public records, lack of specific legal instruments to address media ownership and political affiliation of some media owners – that undermine ownership transparency and regulation.
To help address some of these challenges that confront media ownership in Ghana, the research made the following six key recommendations:
1. The need to prioritized the passage of the Right to Information Bill into law to ensure easy access to information.
2. Given that the Draft Broadcasting Bill directly addresses issues of media ownership in Ghana, there is the need to speed its passage into law as specific laws that attend to the issues of media ownership are currently absent.
3. The inconsistencies of public records on ownership of media outlets in Ghana at the National Communication Authority vis-a-vis records at the Registrar General’s Department urgently demands a reconciliation of records at these two public institutions to enhance credibility and reliability of public information.
4. Given the difficulty to assess the ultimate beneficial ownership, there is a need for strict compliance requirements such as the area of individual tax identification numbers (TIN) introduced by Registrar General’s Department and the new beneficial ownership provisions of the Companies Act as most critical in checking media concentration and monopolies.
5. The under representation of women in the ownership and management of media companies and outlets in Ghana demands proactive measures to be taken to create an environment that lowers entrance barriers to management and media businesses for women.
6. The manual processes and the man hours spent on retrieval of company files at the Registrar General’s Department, sometimes unsuccessful, calls for the need to speed up the process of fully digitalizing all records at the Registrar General’s Department to facilitate easy access to information.