Mr Bernard Avle, General Manager, Citi FM and Citi TV, has challenged the media to change from just giving voice to the citizenry to promoting good values.
He also asked them to move from focusing on numbers to proper societal impact, and from giving visibility to insisting on accountability.
“We should not just be a platform for discussions and debates. We must also become a catalyst for change at the local level,” Mr Avle said at the 16th “Kronti ne Akwamu,” lectures in Accra.
The annual lecture was organised by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) on the theme: “Radio, Rulers and the Ruled in the 4th Republic: 25 Years of an Evolving Relationship in a Democracy,” and supported by Stanbic Bank, KPMG, Citi FM and Unik Image Limited.
The CDD-Ghana’s “Kronti ne Akwamu” Annual Lecture is one of CDD’s initiatives aimed at enriching the quality of public discourse on democratic and governance reforms.
Mr Avle, who was the guest speaker for the 16th Lecture, noted that there was an emerging trend of the media being agents of change and helping drive the country’s democratic journey and called for “professional practice, astute management and visionary ownership,” for greater results.
The Citi FM and Citi TV General Manager said the change was not only the responsibility of the media, and that the political elites also had a role to play; as such, they must “stop treating radio and radio licenses as part of their political empires.”
“They must evolve from electoral politics to people-centred policies; they must stop thinking about just winning elections to impacting human lives and stop treating citizens as simply voters,” he added.
Mr Avle stated that in all those, the media had the greatest responsibility, the right to free speech must inherently ensure the right to hear; adding that to have free access to all sides of an issue was not just the right to speak.
He urged the media in general and radio stations, in particular, to move away from partisan coverage to a more citizen-centred practice.
Mr Avle said for radio to be effective in performing its role in the next 25 years “Our audience should not just be mere listeners; we must see them as citizens who must be empowered to bring change to their communities.”
Madam Emma Morrison, a media and communications consultant, who chaired the event, noted that society expected the media to tell the stories, but there was a need to tell the real stories and also get the necessary change.
She also underscored the need to look at how ownership could control content; noting, the media was impactful and a reflection of society and so whoever controlled the media controlled the narratives.
Madam Morrison said it was for that reason that dictators disliked the realisation of media.
They want to control information flow, it is for this same reason that powerful people including politicians would love to own media.
Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh, Executive Director, CDD-Ghana, said the objective of the lecture was to bridge the gap between reflection, research and analysis on one hand, and pro-democracy and good governance advocacy on the other.
Prof. Prempeh said those ideals defined CDD’s vision, saying “through the lectures CDD-Ghana aims to elevate the public conversation, provoke critical thought and reflection on the prospects of democracy, governance and development in Ghana and Africa.”