Media practitioners were at the weekend tasked to hold political parties and governments accountable to the people as they exert their independence and integrity in their reportage.
“You should serve as a vehicle and light for public enlightenment as well as maintaining the watchdog role in the public interest…fairness and equitable access of all political parties and candidates without bias or prejudices.
“You should know that the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) are not the only political parties or actors in Election 2012”, Mr Anthony Akoto Ampaw ,Chairman of the National Media Commission’s (NMC) Legal and Free Expression Committee, stated at a workshop at Elmina.
The workshop on the theme: “Ensuring free, fair, and peaceful Election 2012 – The role and responsibility of the State-Owned Media,” was organized by the NMC for Chief Executive Officers and Political Editors of the Ghana News Agency; Ghana Broadcasting Corporation; Graphic Communication Group; and the New Times Corporation.
It was also attended representatives of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), Peoples National Convention (PNC), NPP and Progressive Peoples Party (PPP). Other registered political parties failed to attend.
Speaking on: “The role and responsibility of the State-Owned Media: constitutional perspective,” Mr Akoto Ampaw observed that the 1992 Constitution guarantees the independence and freedom of the mass media from executive control, interference, direction or influence or of such control or direction by any other political, economic or vested interest.
He said article 162(2) of the Constitution also enjoins media practitioners to maintain the highest journalistic standards…whilst article 163 places obligation on the State-Owned Media to afford fair opportunities and facilities for the presentation of the divergent views and dissenting opinions.
Mr Kabral Blay Amihere, NMC Chairman, explained that officials of the State-Owned Media are enjoined not to engage in any activity that may appear to be or has the potential to give preferential treatment to any political part or candidate.
He said: “Media institutions should endeavour to make adequate arrangements to facilitate the work of journalists and to safeguard their independence.
“Journalists and other officials of the State-Owned Media should not accept gifts and favours from political parties and presidential candidates, solicit gifts, tangible or intangible, directly or indirectly from a political party or presidential candidates.”
Mr Blay Amihere therefore proposed that in view of the constitutional obligation imposed on the State-Owned Media, “Election Coverage Funds,” be set-up purposely for the state media.
Chief Executive Officer of the State-Owned Media outlined their Election 2012 Coverage programmes to the NMC and the representatives of the political parties.