Speaker of Parliament calls for critical review of NMC powers
The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho on Monday urged a critical review of the powers of the National Media Commission (NMC) to make the body more efficient in regulating the abuses of media freedom.
He said strengthening the NMC’s authority would enable it function effectively to promote and maintain ethical journalistic standards that would promote the country’s democracy and foster greater national cohesion.
“We should take a look at the NMC law as it is now…There is the need to give the NMC teeth to bite, the laws should be amended to give the Commission the powers necessary to regulate the media effectively”.
The Speaker gave the advice when an NMC delegation called on him at his office to officially inform him of the Commissions 20th anniversary public lecture on Wednesday, November, 20, 2013 at the Kofi Annan ICT Centre in Accra as part of activities marking the occasion.
The National Media Commission was set up in July 7, 1993 by an Act of parliament, National Media Commission Act 1993 (ACT 449) and is constitutionally charged with promoting a free and responsible press.
The Constitution enjoins the body to among others, to take all relevant actions to establish and maintain the highest journalistic values in the mass media, including the investigation, mediation and settlement of complaints made against or by the mass media.
Mr Adjaho bemoaned the tacit unencumbered liberty of the Ghanaian media, where people’s reputation was unjustifiably damaged, pushing for the media to self-regulate because of the significant impact their content and operations could have on the economy, policies and the lives of people.
“There is the need for the media to exercise its freedoms responsibly to balance national cohesion….But I will support any initiative to give the NMC the power it needs to implement its decisions”
The Speaker said it was unfortunate that the NMC lacked the authority to rein in offending media outlets that refused to apologize for their indiscretions, saying, this greatly undermined the Commission’s ability to promote a responsible and objective media landscape.
He said there was the need to amend the NMC Act to enable the institution, akin to other organizations like the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, obtain courts orders to compel offending media organizations to abide by its (NMC) recommendations and rulings.
“The Press freedom we fought for was worth it, we would have been worse off without as a country…so we should exercise it responsibly”, the Speaker added.
Mr Kabral Blay-Amihere, Chairman of the NMC said press freedom was a journey worth undertaking, also calling on the media to exercise a high sense of responsibility, discipline and professionalism.
The NMC anniversary lecture, which would be on the topic: “Press Freedom and Media Responsibility in a Democracy”, would be delivered by Mr Desmond Browne QC, a distinguished British legal luminary.
Mr Browne was a former Chairman of the Council of the Bar of England and Wales, and an expert in media law who had handled many libel cases involving high profile celebrities in the United Kingdom, it added.
The Lecture which will also be broadcast live will be under the Chairmanship of Mr Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, Ghana’s Statute Law Review Commissioner. The Commission intends to use the lecture to kick-start a national debate on the state of media freedom and responsibility in Ghana.