NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE NEWLY CONSTITUTED NATIONAL MEDIA COMMISSION
The newly constituted 18-member National Media Commission has been sworn into office with veteran journalist, and member of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Kwasi Gyan Apenteng, being elected as the new chairman. Since its inception in 1993 by a constitutional instrument of the 1992 Constitution, the National Media Commission has tried to fulfill its key mandate of promoting and ensuring the freedom and independence of the media for mass communication and information.
The National Media Commission has for the past 23 years, contributed to making the media landscape in Ghana as fluid and autonomous as possible, though with much trial and effort.
It is also a fact that the Commission has led the media to help nurture, build and restore democracy in Ghana to the envy and admiration of many.
As a state institution that has the herculean task of playing both the watchdog and regulatory roles, it was expected to get the much-needed financial and logistical support for its activities. It is no secret that the Commission does not get its full budgetary support for its activities.
Many were the complaints of the Commission being a toothless bulldog which mostly supervised a media environment that had little respect for decency, ethics and often considered platforms for perpetuating social and political disorder.
The advice by a Supreme Court Judge, Justice Anin Yeboah during the inauguration, that the Commission should ensure that the media is not used to propagate information which would cause confusion, especially before, during and after the 2016 general elections, must be food for thought for the new NMC members.
Justice Anim Yeboah, emphasizing that some media houses in Ghana needed to be deemed as flash-points of political violence, speaks volumes of how the proliferation of the media has given little respect to the code of ethics and moral expression of this noble profession. This indicated that the task ahead of the new members of the National Media Commission is by no means an easy one.
This is particularly so when it has become very clear that the essence of repealing the Criminal Libel Law in 2006 has been challenged by the current spate of media abuse on the airwaves; on TV screens; and in newspaper pages.
The publication and broadcast of despicable pictures of accidents; the use of foul language and propagation of falsehood; exaggeration of news broadcast particularly in local languages; expression of political partisanship by some media houses; lack of professionalism and the employment of non-professionals in most media houses; the uncontrolled use of social media; and the blatant refusal of some practitioners to avail themselves for scrutiny or even provide adequate rejoinders to malicious publications about individuals or institutions, are but a few of the critical concerns confronting the Ghanaian media.
For the new National Media Commission to excel by all standards, will mean the members holding themselves above board; and as advised by the out-going Chairman, Ambassador Kabral Blay Amihere, not to involve in partisan politics. There is also the need to work collectively; it will also mean members of the Commission walking the talk, to set examples worthy of emulation, rather than some using their papers and stations to fan anti-media sentiments. All said and done, there is the need for the state to ensure the adequate provision of financial and logistical support to enable the Commission to perform its Constitutional mandate.
There is also the need to revisit the governing laws of the Commission aimed at strengthening its authorization to decisively deal with issues that crop up, rather than accusing it of being a lame duck. It is the hope of all well-meaning Ghanaians that, members of the reconstituted National Media Commission rise above all challenges, and act as ambassadors of the people of this country, to sanitize the media landscape for the good of all.
BY: OSEI PIESIE-ANTO, A POLITICAL ANALYST.