George Sarpong is Executive Secretary of the NMC
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The National Media Commission (NMC) has said the outcome of the trial of the persons who invaded the studios of Accra-based UTV is “the first step towards reversing impunity” in the country.

The NMC says in as much as concerns have been raised over the extreme leniency shrouding the judgement of the case, the action of the key actors in the entire process is worthy of applause.

A Saturday, October 7, 2023, invasion of the studios of UTV by party foot soldiers of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) was condemned by many who felt the deed was an affront to Ghana’s democracy.

The foot soldiers, who said they were sent by some leaders of the party said the live programme which was ongoing was making the NPP and the government unpopular.

They illegally invaded the studios, disrupted the programme and threatened the host and her guests.

A formal complaint was made to the police by management of Despite Media who owns UTV and the Ministry of Information, leading to the arrest of 16 people.

An Achimota High Court on Monday, October 16, convicted the culprits to a fine of 200 penalty units each amounting to GHC2,400.00 default of 3 months imprisonment.

But according to the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA) and a section of the public who reacted to the ruling, the fine was too small an amount to deter people from indulging in similar occurrences.

In reaction, the NMC has said the complaint made by the Information ministry, the arrest by the police, the speed of the trial amongst others, are indications of improvement on the need for press freedom in sharpening Ghana’s democracy.

Find below the NMC’s reaction signed by its Executive Secretary, George Sarpong.

October 18, 2023

For Immediate Release


The National Media Commission has noted the outcome of the trial of the persons who invaded the UTV studios.

We have also noted the justifiable expression of disappointment by the GJA in what they consider as the leniency of the sentences. While the healthy discussions continue, we plead a focus to the future.

First, there is novelty in the courage of a sitting Minister, a Member of Parliament and an active politician in reporting members of his own party to the police for invading a TV station. This must signify a new beginning towards addressing questions of the safety of journalists. He and the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice had a choice. And they elected to exercise that in favour of media freedom.

That behaviour sets a new standard by which government action must be judged into the future. We must hold the Ministers bound by this worthy precedent and define it as the standard by which we expect all future Ministers to act.

Second, the speed of the trial must give us hope of the commitment of the Chief Justice and the judiciary.

It is also important to acknowledge the police for arresting, investigating and prosecuting the offenders.

Perhaps one positive aspect of the police action that requires to be highlighted is the responsiveness and professionalism of the commander of the Tesano Police and his team.

Above all, the outrage showed by the public should indicate to us the values Ghanaians cherish in our democratic space and the level of decency required of us all.

Social progress is sometimes slow, but the positive direction it takes can give hope of the incremental gain society stands to benefit if efforts continue in that same positive direction. As a result, we call on all who care about the safety of journalists to see the conclusion of this case as the first step towards reversing impunity. We believe our collective commitment to the Coordinated Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists will ultimately create a safer space for the practice of journalism in Ghana.

George Sarpong

Executive Secretary

READ ALSO: Court fines invaders of UTV studios GHC2,400 each