Though Ghana has recorded the largest increase in support for press freedom in Africa, 72 percent of Ghanaians feel the media is “not very free” or “not at all free” to report or comment on the news without government interference, according to an Afrobarometer 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,” the Survey added.
In its latest report, 65 percent 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.
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, support for the media’s watchdog role remains high.
The report noted 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 16 September and 3 October 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.
Drop in press freedom index
Ghana 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 face in the country.
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 that highlights corruption in football in Ghana, contributed to Ghana’s current ranking on the Index.