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20.02.2009 Politics

'Witch hunting' at GBC truncates live TV show

By myjoyonline

Viewers on Ghana Broadcasting Corporation's television network, GTV, were on Friday morning served an abrupt suspension of their regular Breakfast Show midway through the programme.

The programme, which airs at 7am from Monday to Saturday each week, was live on air when it was taken off because of a 'technical hitch', as announced by hostess, Gifty Anti.

Behind the scenes however, a rough storm in the proportion of 'witch-hunting', was fast rising in the corridors of power of the national television station.

It was the Director-General of the Corporation, William Ampem-Darko, furious at 'witches hunting for his job', who ordered the suspension of the live programme for panel imbalance.

According to National Democratic Congress' Deputy Propaganda Secretary, Richard Quarshigah, his attention was drawn by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, a member of the government's transition team, to a discussion of President J.E.A. Mills' Sessional Address on GTV whose panel he thought was unfair to the ruling party.

He said the panel was composed of two New Patriotic Party persons as against one NDC member. Dr. Afriyie Akoto, MP for Kwadaso, as well as Ms Ursula Owusu, a known NPP defender, featured against John Abu Jinapoh for the NDC.

According to Quarshigah, in the run-up to Election 2008 he was personally in charge of recommending and arranging for NDC spokespersons to appear on radio and television discussion programmes. He however stopped that function soon after the elections and conveyed his decision to the producer of the Breakfast Show and others.

He said the producer, Isaac Addington, in turn asked him for and obtained a list of NDC persons he could pick for discussions.

On being alerted of the 'unfair' panel on the programme, Quarshigah said he called the Director of TV, Mr. Moses Gyapong, to complain.

“Mr. Gyapong readily acknowledged why I had called and said he was on the phone to the Director General who he said had expressed misgivings about the panel composition and was recommending that the show be cut,” Quarshigah told Myjoyonline.

Quarshigah said he duly called the Director General to plead with him not to take the programme off to avoid creating any credibility issues for the station and instead demand for a fair representation subsequently. Mr. Ampem-Darko however allegedly disagreed with him and insisted that “the issue had thoroughly been dealt with previously but it appeared some people in GBC are determined to do him in” and he was not going to allow that.

As it turned out, the programme was subsequently suspended as a result of the 'technical hitch' and in its place, commercials played.

Story by Isaac Yeboah