media-houses-deserve-a-stimulus-package
In December 2019, public health officials from China contacted the World Health Organization about a problem they had at hand. That problem was a new virus that was causing pneumonia-like illness and spreading through and outside the city of Wuhan in the Hubei Province.

The virus is the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Since its outbreak, almost every nation has recorded a case of the COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020. It subsequently recognized it as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

As at 14:56 GMT on April 3, 2020, the world had recorded 1,041,119 coronavirus cases, with 55,203 deaths while 222,332 had recovered, according to data captured on the website of www.worldometers.info.

Ghana is not an isolated country as far as the novel coronavirus is concerned. As at 11:30 GMT on Friday, April 3, 2020, the West African nation had recorded 204 cases with five deaths while a total of 49 people have recovered from the symptoms and are being managed from their various homes.

Due to the increasing number of recorded cases around the world, most of the affected countries have locked down with the attending dire consequences on various sectors of the global economy.

On March 25, 2020, the US Senate passed an approximately US$2.2trillion stimulus package to help in an effort to jump-start an economy decimated by the pandemic. The stimulus package was to provide aid for workers, small businesses and industries impacted in the recent weeks by the virus.

On March 17, 2020, the British government announced a £330billion rescue package of loan guarantees to help U.K. businesses survive the economic crunch brought about by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, March 27, 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in a similar fashion announced a GH₵1billion stimulus package under a Coronavirus Alleviation Program, CAP.

The amount is to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on businesses and households and ensure job losses are minimized.

“The Minister of Finance… will, then, immediately make available a minimum of GH₵1billion to households and businesses, particularly, small and medium scale enterprises”, President Akufo-Addo announced in his address to the nation.

He then went further to declare a two-week restriction of movements in Greater Accra Region, Tema, Greater Kumasi and Kasoa.

To quote the President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde, “extraordinary times require extraordinary action”, one can only applaud President Akufo-Addo for taking such bold measures to protect the citizenry from the coronavirus while also ensuring that businesses survive in the wake of the virus.

Ghana recorded its first two cases of the novel coronavirus on March 12, 2020. Since then, the country has never been the same.

Most businesses operating in the restricted areas have shut down, leaving only those classified as rendering essential services to operate albeit with low patronage. The local economy is virtually dead.

Even though it will be too early to start counting our losses, one could vividly see the effect of the coronavirus on media houses.

The practice of containment measures such as social distancing has resulted in a lot of media houses cutting down staff and rotating the few that have been asked to report to work.

Advertising has sharply dropped since businesses are adopting cost-cutting measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Events and promotions account for a chunk of revenue to many media houses. However, COVID-19 has shut the doors to all out-door events. One can only mention a few of the impact of COVID-19 on media houses.

Despite these challenges, media houses have lived up to expectation, especially, regarding coverage of COVID-19.

One can say that about 85% of the media’s coverage has centered on COVID-19 – thus providing coverage for government programs on the pragmatic measures it is putting in place to combat the spread of the virus; educating the citizenry on how to keep safe in the wake of COVID-19, among many others.

Although details of the GH₵1billion stimulus package announced by the President to help households and small and medium scale enterprises are not yet known, it is important for government to factor in media houses in order to meet them half-way.

This piece of article therefore, seeks to suggest to government to consider:

1. Waiving the cost of renewing frequency authorization at least for one year.

2. Pay the cost of electricity bill covering a period of six months.

3. Pay the cost of water bill covering a period of six months.

4. Cut down their tax returns at least 70%.

These, together with some others, that may be considered by the government will help sustain media houses to be in business considering the fact that the local economy may take at least two years to recover from the impact of the coronavirus as espoused by the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Hon. Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah recently on the floor of the house.

The Author of this piece of article, Stephen Odoi-Larbi, is a journalist with kasapafmonline.com (EIB Network). The views expressed by him are solely his and do not represent the position of the media house he works for. Email: [email protected] 0244450685

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