AG begs for time over ‘censorship’ law
State Prosecutors wants more time to file their statement of case in respect of the suit filed at the Supreme Court by the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) over a new media content law by the National Media Commission (NMC).
According to Grace Ewoo, a state Attorney, the A-G had filed a notice for extension of time to enable it file its statement of case.
She explained that the state had filed their affidavit in respect of the matter on February 24, this year.
Thaddeus Sory who also represented the NMC, requested the court to give the Commission some days to file their statement of case.
Kweku Owusu Agyemang representing GIBA stated that he had no objection to the submissions of the AG and NMC.
The seven member panel presided over by Justice William Atuguba granted the request of the AG and the NMC, ordering them to do so within 14 days.
GIBA had also gone to Court to strike out a new law which requires media owners to seek content approval from the NMC before publication.
The GIBA wants the apex court to expunge the new law as being inconsistent with the 1992 constitution which guarantees media freedom.
GIBA specifically wants the court to expunge regulations 3 to 12 and 22 of the NMC (Content Standards) Regulations 2015 (LI 2224) as being inconsistent with the 1992 Constitution which guarantees unfettered media freedom.
The regulations in contention basically require media owners to apply for content authorization, submit programme guide and content for approval and go by a set of rules stipulated by the NMC or in default pay a fine or serve between two and five years in jail.
Dissatisfied with the new regulations and what they said was their threat to press freedom, GIBA caused its lawyer to file a writ to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
It was seeking a “declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 162 (1), 162 (2), 162 (4), 167 (d) and 173 of the 1992 Constitution, neither the government of Ghana nor any state institution created under the 1992 Constitution, including the NMC, shall engage in acts or exercise any powers that are likely to amount to censorship, control and direction of the institutions of mass media communication in Ghana.
“No institutions of mass media communication shall be criminally penalized for their failure to procure authorization for the content of their publication from the government or any state institution created under the 1992 Constitution, including the NMC,” the GIBA reliefs said.
The applicant, that joined the A-G as the first defendant, is seeking a declaration that the said regulations 3 to12 and 22 of the NMC (Content Standards) Regulations 2015(LI 2224) in so far as their cumulative effect was to give the NMC the power to determine which content can be conveyed by operators on a public electronic communications network, amounts to censorship of the media and same contravenes articles 162 (1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution and is, therefore, void.
GIBA among others wants the court to declare that “A public electronic communications or a broadcasting service amounts to control and direction over the professional functions of the operators and same contravenes and is inconsistent with Article 163 (4) and Article 167(d) and Article 173 of the 1992 Constitution and, therefore, void.
The independent broadcasters also want “An order deleting, expunging or striking out regulations 3 to11 and 22 of the NMC (Content Standards) Regulations 2015( LI 2224) on the grounds that they are unconstitutional.