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Television Access and Viewership in Ghana

Although less widely used than radio, television was available in the households of more than half of Ghanaians surveyed, in the 2009 AudienceScapes Survey in Ghana while another 20 percent of respondents said they watched at a location other than their own household (Chart 1).

Chart 1

                     

Even for Ghanaians with televisions at home, the data suggest a limited selection of channels available to them: virtually all respondents with a TV at home received their signal only through an antenna (on the TV or roof, or outside a window) and said they receive between 1 and 6 channels. Rural residents in the survey were less likely than urban residents to have a TV in their own home at all and less likely to be among the few with more than a handful of channels (read more about the urban-rural divide in Ghana for other media here).

When asked which stations they watch most often, four popular outlets stood out from the pack: GTV, TV3, Metro TV, and TV Africa. GTV, the most widely cited television station, is a state-run station managed by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation; the other three stations are privately owned.

Men were somewhat more likely than women to mention GTV or Metro TV, but overall, the differences in gender were not great. Differences by age were more prominent, with younger respondents more likely to mention watching any of the top stations.

Chart 2
               

Urban and rural viewing habits showed notable differences (Chart 2). Although similar shares of urban and rural residents said they watched GTV, rural residents were less than half as likely as urban residents to mention TV Africa, and lagged far behind their urban counterparts in mentioning TV3 and Metro TV.

As with radio, there were also regional differences, though the reasons for them are not clear from the data; they may result from personal preferences, varying access to broadcast signals or some combination of the two. For example, no respondents in the Upper East or Upper West regions mentioned TV Africa as one of the three stations they watch most frequently. However, the cause for regional variations cannot be determined from the survey data.

An overwhelming majority of respondents expressed trust in news and information on TV. Given that only a few stations are available to most viewers in the country; this judgment likely reflects public opinion of the big four stations alone (Chart 3).

Chart 3
                        

Out of the 17 percent of respondents who said they had not watched TV at all in the last year, 60 percent were women, 74 percent were over 30, 78 percent lived in rural areas, and 75 percent had a primary school education or less. When asked why they had not watched TV, the vast majority (87 percent) said that one of the reasons is not having a TV of their own. Three other reasons were mentioned by at least a fifth of non-viewers—TVs being too expensive to buy, not having enough time to watch TV, and having problems with electricity.

Those “problems with electricity” may be that the power goes out at times people would like to watch TV. Although 81 percent of all respondents reported that their homes were connected to the main power grid, and a handful said they used other sources (such as generators, car batteries, or solar batteries), those connections did not ensure reliable electricity. In fact, about 40 percent of those with access to electricity could only use it about half the day or less, on average (Chart 4).

Chart 4
                         

Survey respondents connected to the main power grid for electricity were three times more likely to have a television at home and almost four times more likely to have a computer or internet access. Those connected to the grid were also more than twice as likely to be weekly TV viewers (72 percent, versus 34 percent of individuals whose households were not connected to the main power grid). Individuals whose households had no electricity were as or more likely to rely on friends and family for news (66 percent said they got news from friends and family weekly, compared to 64 percent among those with any form of electricity).