The Government has intensified discussion on the Right to Information (RTI) Bill as an affirmation of its commitment to ensure its passage into law, the Minister of Information, Mrs Sabah Zita Okaikoi stated in Accra on Thursday.

The Government’s initiatives include dialogue between Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, and Ministry of Information with the Ghana Coalition on the Right to Information, mandating legal expert to examine the Bill and its accompanying critique.

Mrs. Okaikoi, who was speaking at the launch of the African Media Barometer report, the first home-grown analysis of the media landscape in Africa focusing on Ghana urged non-state actors and media practitioners to improve upon the media landscape.

She called for collaboration with stakeholders to pave way for an even more vibrant, independent and professional media in the country.

The African Media Barometer is a self assessment exercise done by Africans themselves according to home-grown criteria, which is the first in-depth and comprehensive description and measurement system for national media environment on the African continent.

The benchmarks for the 26 Countries are to a large extent taken from the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights, Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.

Mrs. Okaikoi, who launched the report commended the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung for supporting the project.

Mr. Ransford Tetteh, President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) who reviewed the report said the overall verdict of the report indicates the increasing recognition of the media’s role in nurturing Ghana’s democracy.

He said the report tasked the National Media Commission and the Ghana Journalists Association to do more to enforce regulations on the code of ethics of the journalism profession.

Mr Tetteh said the report cited the inability of the NMC to summon media houses to comply to its code as a weakness and called for the strengthening of the NMC.

The GJA President acknowledged that although some public information can be assessed, no public official can be compelled to release information they consider confidential and therefore not for public consumption.

“Lack of information hinders public discourse and the empowerment of the people to hold public office holders accountable for their actions,” he said.

He therefore urged the government to speed up the passage of the Right to Information Bill and the Broadcasting Bill to deepen the frontiers of the media freedom.

Mr. Tetteh appealed to journalists to respect regulatory bodies such as NMC and the Ethics and Disciplinary Council of the GJA to ensure that the media lived up to professional and ethic standards.

“The integrity of the media will be at stake if the practitioners do not respect the code of ethics,” Mr Tetteh stated.

The main part of the report was based on qualitative assessment of the media landscape according to a set of indicators, which includes Freedom of expression, Freedom of the Media, the media landscape broadcasting regulations and media practice.

Source: GNA