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Government minister denies he interrupted TV programme, uttered threats

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 2 May 2008, Ghana's Minister of Trade and Industry, Joe Baidoo-Ansah, denied storming the studios of Metropolitan Television (Metro TV), an Accra-based TV station, to interrupt a live broadcast.

He told Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) on the telephone that his attention was drawn to a live broadcast from a make-shift studio at the premises of the Accra International Conference Centre, where the just-ended United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) meeting took place.

"It must be noted that the entire conference grounds had been handed over to the UNCTAD secretariat to run," he added.

On 24 April, MFWA's correspondent reported that Baidoo-Ansah went to the studios of Metro TV to protest the inclusion of an opposition spokesman. Thus, he denied saying that he went to the premises "in his capacity as President of UNCTAD 12, during a commercial break in the programme to express concern about the guests and issues being raised, which he considered were inappropriate on a UN platform."

Baidoo-Ansah, also a former journalist, said he left the programme to run, confident that his advice had been taken in good faith. However, he was again informed that the discussion was still going on along the lines of internal political matters.

The Minister said, when the second programme break was announced, he again went to the studio to reiterate his concerns about the local internal political direction of the programme. "To the best of my knowledge, the cameras were off air as there was a break for an advert to run. It was only after the communication between the host, the guests and myself that I got to know that we were on air," he explained.

He denied that his intervention was made amidst threats, insults and physical harassment, adding that even after his intervention the programme continued to its scheduled end.

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