A survey by Afrobarometer has shown that 72 per cent of Ghanaians feel the media is “not very free” or “not at all free” to report or comment on the news without government interference although Ghana has recorded the largest increase in support for press freedom in Africa
According to the survey. “only two in 10 (19%) think the media is “somewhat free” or “completely free” to do so, the second-lowest perception of media freedom among eight countries surveyed in 2019.”
In its latest report, 65 per cent of Ghanaians say the media should have the right to publish any views and ideas without government restrictions.
This marked a 29-percentage-point increase “after a sharp dip to 36% in the 2017 survey.”
Currently, three in 10 respondents say the government should have the right to prevent publications it disapproves of.
Comparing preliminary data from Afrobarometer Round 8 surveys in 2019 in eight African countries, Ghana records the largest increase in support for media freedom
The report’s findings also noted that support for media freedom is widespread among all key socio-demographic groups.
This support “increases significantly with education (76% among those with post-secondary education vs. 59% among those with no formal education). Young adults (66% among those aged 18-35 years), men (69%), and urban residents (69%) are more likely to favour media freedom than older, female, and rural respondents.”
Furthermore, respondents still rated support for the media’s watchdog role high.
The report further indicated that “Eight in 10 Ghanaians (82%) say the media should constantly investigate and report on government mistakes and corruption, a 7-percentage-point increase compared to 2014.”
The Afrobarometer team in Ghana is led by the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana).
It interviewed 2,400 adult Ghanaians between September 16 and October 3, 2019.
“A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-2 percentage points at a 95% confidence level,” the report explained.
Previous Afrobarometer surveys were conducted in Ghana in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2017.
Why the drop in press freedom index?
Ghana’s free press credentials suffered a hit when it dropped three places on the World Press Freedom index.
This drop was mainly due to the threats investigative reporters in the country faced in the course of their duty.
The 2020 index put together by campaign group, Reporters Without Borders saw Ghana ranking 30 after coming 27 in 2019.
The failure of the state to arrest and prosecute persons behind the murder of private investigator, Ahmed Suale, who worked with TigerEye PI to publish a documentary, highlighting corruption in Ghana football, contributed to the current ranking on the World Index.