The new arrangement by the Electoral Commission (EC) whereby journalists are to pay for accreditation to cover the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections is illegal, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, a lecturer at the School of Communications, University of Ghana, has said.
The commission set November 7 2016 as deadline for submission of requests for accreditation to be granted at a fee, citing financial constraints.
But speaking in an interview with Naa Deede Tettey on Class FM’s 12 Live, Prof Gadzekpo said the EC’s decision will be a major stumbling block to the work of journalists in rural areas as well as those working for community radio stations who do not have the same financial prowess as their colleagues in well-established media organizations.
She said on Wednesday, November 2, that: “ journalists should complain very loudly because it is unusual for journalists to pay for accreditation and particularly poor practice for a state institution like the EC whose role is to organize free, fair and transparent election to demand that one of its key stakeholders who can help ensure free, fair and transparent elections will have to pay for the privilege…Dr Afari Gyan (Former Chair of the EC) said they (Journalists) did well in keeping the public abreast with what was happening even in the remotest parts of the country and indicating areas where attention was needed”.
For her, the media is of great value to the EC and “putting a price tag on accreditation signals that journalist must pay to have access and that is not a good thing”.
“You may say that it is not too much but what happens with a freelance journalist who does not have the backing of a big media house, what about community radio stations that have little revenue. We really do not want a situation where only the well-resourced media houses will get the accreditation. That is very unconstitutional,” she emphasized.