Friday, 11 April 2014

Effects Of Radio Discussions On Society

Ghana over the years, especially with the proliferation of radio and television stations, has seen an increase of public discussion in the media. This system known to be ‘Public Sphere’ has provided the people of this country insightful knowledge on certain national issues. At the same time it has caused a level of division among the populace as well as indecency on the nation’s airwaves. According to Jurgen Habermas, who propounded theories on the subject of public sphere, “it is defined as ‘a domain of a social life in which public opinion or something close to it could be formed.” Public Sphere also can be seen as a theatre in modern societies in which political participation is enacted through the medium of talk. This, in Ghana for instance, is done actively in the media especially the electronic media. In some cases, it has been overdone and created problems in a way for the country and panelists of TV and Radio programmes. For democracy to triumph in our society, Radio and TV discussions on national matters should be meaningful and have bearing on national development rather than creating antagonism and resentment among citizens. Radio and in some cases TV discussions have actively involved audience. This is commendable because it brings out the opinion of as many citizens as possible for discussions, though it has its own attendant problems. Today, the concept of Public Sphere has been more relevant in our democratic dispensation as a nation than ever. There is no doubt that the mass media still play a very crucial role in forming and reflecting public opinion. It brings the ‘world’ closer to the individual and the society at large while it also sets the agenda for debates.

Unfortunately, the trend of public discussions on Radio stations in Ghana leaves much to be desire. The problem has to do with professionalism, language, hosting, contributions, and phone-ins, among others. Most radio talk show hosts for lack professionalism in most cases allow their panelists to take over programmes thus misinforming listeners. In some cases political parties have been allowed by some of these stations to primarily do active propaganda to divide the people.

Media ownership and control in this country has not been the best. Media owners have not expressed any concern about what is going on in the electronic media. Today, the electronic media especially, radio appears to be the most popular media particularly during the daytime. All over the place, unlike other mediums, newspapers, portable radio sets are carried everywhere. Many mobile phones and other electronic gadgets also have radio facilities. So at the market place, offices, in moving vehicles, rooms, and almost everywhere, one can listen to the radio. To this end, the effect of all the negativities is wide spread. Today all politicians have turned themselves into experts on every subject, from politics to economics, health and education. Talk show hosts must and should not pitch political opponents against each other which almost always inflame passion. They should rather host people with expertise on topics under discussion. There is the need for workers on radio to respect the rights and freedom of the listeners and other organizations and institutions. Code of ethics must be enforced to the letter. Moves by the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) and the National Media Commission (NMC), to bring sanity in the media need commendation. For we need decency in our country. There are no in-house regulations for many radio and TV stations by way of values and standards. We will want to see electronic media houses enforce codes which set standards and practices on discussions and programmes.

BY: NANA SIFA TWUM, COMMUNICATION EXPERT .

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