Power, Policy, and Digital Switchover: An Analysis of Communication Policy Making and its Challenges for Regulating Ghana’s Digital Television Sector

Bedu-addo, K. 2023. Power, Policy, and Digital Switchover: An Analysis of Communication Policy Making and its Challenges for Regulating Ghana’s Digital Television Sector. PhD thesis University of Westminster Westminster School of Media and Communication https://doi.org/10.34737/w121z

Title Power, Policy, and Digital Switchover: An Analysis of Communication Policy Making and its Challenges for Regulating Ghana’s Digital Television Sector
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsBedu-addo, K.
Abstract

This thesis examines communication policy making in Ghana during the country’s digital switchover process launched in 2010. The thesis argues that Ghana’s digital switchover policy making process was an opportunity to refashion policy and regulatory structures towards the public interest that went beyond the modernisation of broadcasting transmission infrastructure and the innovations digital switchover brought. The thesis investigates whether, and the extent to which, structural and institutional characteristics in the communication policy arena facilitated or hindered broadcasting policy making, and explains the persistence of the analogue era broadcasting regulatory regime in the digital multichannel television market. Ghana’s return to Constitutional rule since 1992 led to the liberalisation of the broadcasting sector, permitting private ownership of broadcast media for the first time in the country’s history, as well as the reconfiguration of the communication policy making arena (and the wider policy environment), with more actors engaged in policy making. Yet, the manner in which this was achieved sustained the capability of state policy actors in the communication sector to influence the shape, pace and direction of policy due to the concentration of power within the Executive that granted the government excessive power.

The thesis draws on political science and sociological concepts and approaches to analyse original qualitative data based on extensive documentary analysis and elite interviews with policy actors, during Ghana’s digital switchover policy making process from 2010. The study finds that political events during Ghana’s transition to Constitutional rule in the early 1990s, after ten years of military autocratic rule was the critical juncture that laid the foundation for a path-dependent communication policy making trajectory. Overtime this has produced a fractured and uncoordinated broadcasting policy making context whereby policy makers act without much consideration for the wider interest of the sector, whilst non-state policy actors remain ineffective to sustain advocacy that would serve the public interest. This played out during Ghana’s digital switchover process as the dominance of state-controlled policy actors ensured the framing of domestic digital switchover policy objectives along narrow externally set priorities at the expense of longstanding and pertinent broadcasting policy and regulatory concerns that could have been part of the country’s digital switchover policy making agenda. The study maintains that as the full implications of the digital switchover process on Ghana’s broadcasting sector becomes apparent, the continued lack of an adequate policy and regulatory framework for the new digital television broadcasting market, and, indeed the larger broadcasting sector, does not serve the public interest and as such, it impoverishes the broadcasting service available to citizens.

Year2023
File
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Project Power, Policy, and Digital Switchover: An Analysis of Communication Policy Making and its Challenges for Regulating Ghana’s Digital Television Sector
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
PublishedAug 2022
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.34737/w121z

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