The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation [GBC] has strived to maintain a high level of objectivity and fairness unprecedented in its history from the time of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the National Liberation Council, the regime of Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia through the Acheampong regime, General Akuffo's time, the AFRC days, Dr limann’s regime, the PNDC days and the current democratic dispensation. The Corporation has been both fair and transparent especially during election years. This year, the Political Broadcast Committee was proactive enough to begin consultations with political parties, months before the season kicked in in earnest.
The committee engaged the political parties, to set the ground rules for coverage of political activity and related issues such as debates and sensitization of the electorate on manifestoes of political parties. Furthermore, the radio and television newsrooms dedicated correspondents to all the flagbearers after the Electoral Commission came out with its final list. This, the Corporation has been doing since the inception of the fourth republic. Even though journalists and presenters at GBC might have their political preferences, it is instilled in them to be professional.
The Corporation tries as much as possible to ensure fairness in coverage of all political parties especially during the political season because ours is a public broadcasting mandate not tied to the political aprons of any political party. Granted that part of its mandate is to disseminate government policies and programmes, that does not mean that the Corporation is the tool of any political party to pursue its agenda. There is a clear distinction between governance issues and political party activity during election years. We do not for instance equate the inauguration of a project by the President to a political rally. This is because the coverage of the inauguration of a classroom block is part of the Corporation’s mandate to inform the public on what government is doing per its mandate to govern. It would therefore be unfair and unjust for GBC to be tagged as the mouthpiece or propaganda tool of any political party or government.
We note with concern that the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo Addo has allegedly said on a commercial radio station that he boycotted the NCCE/GBC Presidential debate because the two public institutions are bias. Nana Akufo Addo was quoted as saying that, "GBC acts like a propaganda wing of the ruling party". We disagree with this statement. This is because the GBC does not stifle the use of stories on any political party and distinguishes between pure reportage on governance and political coverage. It must be put on record that genuine and truthful attempts were made by the GBC through its political broadcast committee to get the New Patriotic Party to take advantage of GBC's platform to sell its message and candidate to the electorate. Even though the committee went through a frustrating time getting the NPP to be part of political programmes on GBC's platform such as the encounter with Presidential candidates and Presidential debates, it kept up its mission to involve the party.
Indeed even hours before the Presidential debate GBC left its options open for the participation of Nana Akufo Addo. As a public broadcaster driven by public interest rather than profit, the GBC will continue to pursue its objective and mission of educating, informing and entertaining the Ghanaian public. The Corporation understands and acknowledges its role in the democratic dispensation of Ghana and would not do anything to disadvantage any political party or figure. GBC is for all Ghanaians and will as such serve as platform on which all the sundry including political parties can sell their message, flagbearers and manifestoes.
Our political leaders must endeavour to help GBC maintain its public service stance by avoiding utterances that would spawn the perception that the Corporation is biased towards a particular candidate and party. Anything short of this would be unfair, untruthful and unjust.
BY TEYE KITCHER, A JOURNALIST.