NDC brings back censorship : Orders correspondents to clear stories with info ministry
Copy of a correspondence addressed to the Heads of All Missions in the country intercepted by The Statesman points to a cringing return of the nation to the dark days of a Police State and clampdown on press freedom by the regime with the nation's worst record when it comes to media and personal freedoms.
A directive signed by Information Minister Sabah Zita Okaikoi states that henceforth all foreign correspondents visiting Ghana to film documentaries are to be accompanied by officials of the Information Services Department.
Furthermore, the correspondents are to submit a copy of their films to the Department, which is under the Information ministry, through the head of their respective missions for clearance before such material is publicly aired here or in their respective countries.
Dated March 16, 2009 with reference number PB73/126/02, the directive was also copied to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and NEPAD.
The Minister warns that any foreign media house that refuses to comply with the directive will be refused any rights to shoot films in Ghana or communicate such material to any audience outside the country's borders.
The letter also expressly states that even if the request to film or write documentaries are granted, agents of the Ministry of Information should necessarily be on site to monitor shooting and directing of film material "to ensure that they operate within the laid down regulations…”
Mrs Okaikoi observes that her Government has been compelled to take the decision following reports that some foreign media houses have produced films that paint a grave picture of Ghana to the international community.
No instances were cited by the letter or examples of such demeaning documentaries given by the Minister in the correspondence.
By the Minister's directive, BBC, CNN, VOA or other such foreign media houses need clearance from the Information Ministry before their time-bound news material could be bounced off the airwaves should they happen to cover international assignments in Ghana.
Only last week, the minister, at a soiree held at the forecourt of the Ministry of Information, indicated her commitment and that of her party to work with the media in achieving the goals the NDC had set itself.
Professor J E A Mills at another soiree off the Spintex Road held exclusively for Editors, pledged a new working relationship with the media, "without whom any agenda of Government would be meaningless.”
The soiree was attended by all the kingpins of the NDC, including General Mosquito, Kwabena Adjei, ET Mensah, the Ahwois and other NDC Old Guards - civil and military alike.