Wednesday, November 3, 2010
IS THE NATIOTNAL MEDIA COMMISION A TOOTHLESS BULL DOG?
The most critical concern of news and information providers is the issue of press freedom, which was curtailed occasionally from the 1960s to the 1980s. The National Media Commission was established in 1993 as an independent watchdog organization to ensure that the government does not control or interfere with any media provider, private or state-owned. Today, the media in Ghana operate without major restrictions.
Even though the National Media Commission is suppose to be the watch dog I believe they have not done enough in that aspect of their responsibility. For instance not long ago the government asked the Director General of Ghana Broadcasting Corporations (GBC) to proceed on leave and his deputy was made the acting Director General. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic Ghana, chapter twelve, article 167, clause (c) state that The NMC is to insulate the state owned media from Governmental control. But they have also failed in this area as not to allow the decision of the government to be implemented
Again, The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana chapter twelve, article 167 clause (b) mandated the National Media Commission to take all appropriate measures to ensure the establishment and maintenance of high journalistic standards in the mass media, including the investigation, mediation and settlement of complaints made against or by the press or other mass media. To summarize this clause, the NMC is supposed to maintain high standard of journalism but recently some journalist went below their profession, and dragging the profession into the ‘mad’ One of such journalist who received public condemnation and bashing is the editor of ‘the new punch’ news paper who is popularly known as ‘Baby Ansaba’ and some few others practice what is known as stomach journalism by writing falsehood stories for money. And the NMC did nothing about that even up to date or in other words the NMC failed to bring journalist who do not perform high standard of the profession to book.
The NMC is supposed to make regulations by constitutional instrument for the registration of newspapers and other publications, except that the regulations shall not provide for the exercise of any direction or control over the professional functions of a person engaged in the production of newspapers or other means of mass communication which is also mandatory from the 1992 constitution of the republic of Ghana. And I will like to congratulate the NMC for their hard work on this aspect of their function as a commission. Even though some media houses operate without due process and registration, the NMC is always up on their toes to make sure that all media and publication houses register through the constitutional instrument. Another area that the NMC has done well is the non interference of direction or control over the professional functions of the media houses
The National Media Commission is also responsible for promoting and ensuring the freedom and independence of the media for mass communication or information which is also mandated by the 1992 constitution of Ghana. But the NMC has done little in respect of this responsibility, about some few month ago the acting news editor of joy fm, Ato Kwamena Dadze was picked by the police because of news item which was aired on Joy fm and the then acting editor refused to disclosed his source of the information. The police alleged that the news caused fear and panic so the editor was arrested and the NMC only issued a press release on the issue and that was all. I believe the NMC has done little about this case and also doing little in terms of promoting freedom of the press and the media. Just some few days ago a lady came on one of Accra based radio station to reveal a horrific armed robbery rapped incident which was alleged to have occurred on the Kintampo- Tamale road. After some few days the lady and the presenter of the program on which the incident was aired was also arrested. Once Again the NMC looks down unconcern; I believe that this incident will not help in ensuring freedom information and of the media.
To conclude I will like to state it clear that the 1992 constitution does not give enough power to the NMC to function because the constitution does not give guidance as to what to do when the government and other media houses offend or goes contrary to the articles and clauses in the constitution. There should be sanctions to empower the NMC to prosecute or fine those who go against the rules and regulations.
The public should be educated about the work and functions about the National Media Commission to abreast the public about their work. To further more the Commission should have their representative in the 10 regions of Ghana to ensure efficient monitoring. I believe the NMC is in conflict of power with National Communication Authority (NCA) and I want their powers to be clearly stated, define and separated for the them to know who is suppose to do what and at what time.