Judge charges NMC to shape media practice

Kwasi Gyan Apenteng – Chairman, NMC

Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo, a Supreme Court Judge on Monday charged the National Media Commission (NMC) to help shape media practice in the country as Ghana seeks to brand itself as an attractive investment and tourist destination.

“NMC should not only limit its media monitoring to radio and television but pay greater attention to what goes on in the digital and social media space,” Justice Akoto-Bamfo said when she swore in two more member of the NMC at a ceremony in Accra.

Justice Akoto-Bamfo further entreated the Commission to exert more pressure on Parliament to pass the Broadcasting Law and the Right to Information Bill (RTI) into law.

According to Justice Akoto-Bamfo the passage of the RTI would not be in the interest of only media practitioners but the entire citizenry.

“The Right to Information is so important and fundamental to the democratic governance,” he said.

The two members are: Mr Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, Member of Parliament for Asante Akyem Central and Mr Edward Elorm Desewu, a member of the Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG). This brings the number of NMC to 18.

Administering the two members to the Oath of Allegiance and Office, the Supreme Court Judge admonished the two members to work hard and deliver results that would bring honour to themselves, families and society at large.

“You should be proactive in resolving the complainants of ethical breaches and professional misconduct by the media that come to you,” she said.

Supreme Court Judge recounted that the NMC in Article 167 of the 1992 Constitution was mandated to establish and maintain a high journalistic standards as well as insulate the State Media from governmental control.

However, Justice Akoto-Bamfo noted that the new media and the current digital age had expanded the frontiers of the mass communication to unimaginable lengths.

“Whilst this development is most welcome, it comes with the great danger of anonymity and hence the opportunity for individuals to indulge in unsavoury and often detestable past time,” she said.

According to her, the challenges that western countries were contending with in the propagation of incendiary communication of a religious, nature, revenge pornography, vile religious indoctrination and sophisticated crime across borders were not far away from Ghana.

The Supreme Court Judge therefore admonished the NMC to be interested in those relatively new areas of mass communication and find ways to curb dangers they pose to cohesion in society.

Nana Kwasi Gyan-Appenteng, Chairman, NMC, noted that the new members were coming at a time that the country needed to embark on soul searching by examining the framework that established the Commission.

Nana Gyan-Appenteng said it was important to test the efficacy and relevance of the Commission’s nearly a quarter of a century after coming into office through the 1992 Constitution.

He was not enthused with the inadequate number of members that the Constitution required to work as part-timers for the Commission.

According to Nana Gyan-Appenteng, Ghana’s current media landscape had over 400 Radio Stations, over 70 free to air Television Stations and about 40 Newspapers published daily and weekly.

In the view of the NMC Chairman, the media terrain had changed completely as a result of technology, different political and constitutional dispensation, different social mores and different set of political economy.

He therefore reminded members of the NMC to factor the work of the Commission in their daily tasks and give value for money for the tax payer.

Nana Gyan-Appenteng noted that some offerings on Radio and Television currently was beyond the pale, adding the NMC received daily complaints from listeners and viewers about broadcasting content and the Commission had used formal and informal processes to curb some more outlandish excesses.

Citing the recent complaint of pornography against three Television Stations, the NMC Chairman said the Commission needed legislations consistent with constitutional arrangement to set and apply the standards required for quality broadcasting in the country.

“We have started stakeholder consultations with the Ghana Independent Broadcasting Association (GIBA) in order to agree on the principles that will trigger the new laws on standards.

“We will widen the stakeholder definition beyond GIBA to ensure that the nation can participate in democratic regulation of the media space,’’ Nana Gyan-Appenteng said.

He appealed to the media to take more interest in the NMC, adding it is the responsibility of the media to ask questions they ask all institutions.

“I believe that by so doing we will all profit from the good intentions of our constitution and the undoubted capabilities of the women and men who have the privilege to serve the nation on the NMC,” he added.

Source: GNA

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