The Media Foundation for West Africa has called for financial relief packages including tax breaks for the media following an assessment of the media landscape during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The foundation in a report stressed that the integrity of the media was at stake ahead of the 2020 general elections because of weakened financial standing.
“Unfortunately, government has provided practically little support, making the media potentially vulnerable to capture by vested interests, especially as Ghana heads towards elections in December 2020.”
The foundation noted that the partial lockdown in some parts of the country and public gathering restrictions ushered in a period where “advertising and announcement revenues reduced considerably.”
It cited newspapers as having suffered the most during the period.
“Although the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt across board, the newspaper industry has been hit hardest as it has seen sales steadily declining during the lockdowns and even after.”
“In spite of the risks and financial challenges media professionals and media organisations in Ghana are facing, they are yet to receive any substantial support from the government, the private sector, or NGOs,” the report further stated.
The foundation is generally of the view that the media “discharged with distinction their duty of informing and educating the populace on the COVID-19.”
Among other challenges noted in the report were access to Personal Protective Equipment and timely information.
It also said there were a few instances of abuse “which need urgent redress to prevent impunity from setting in.”
Find below full recommendations of the foundation
In view of the above, we call on the government of Ghana to:
- Adopt policies urging officials at all levels to proactively disclose information to the media
- Call on law enforcement officers to exercise restrains towards the media in their line of duty
- Consider media professionals as frontline workers and provide them with adequate PPEs regularly
- Put in place financial relief packages including tax breaks for the media
We also call on the Media to:
- Avoid the scoop culture in order to prevent disseminating false or inaccurate information and ensure that they provide fact-checked reports and information
- Provide training on safety measure for reporters and take measures to ensure adequate protection of media staff
- Leverage on the opportunities offered by technology
Finally, we urge media development organisations to:
- Convene a national stakeholder discussion on the current state and post-COVID survival of the media
- Provide technical assistance and know-how on media financial sustainability, as well as strategies that could help media organisations leverage their internal capacity to mobilise resources.