Ambassador Kabral Blay Amihere, Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), on Friday expressed worry about the recent political discourse, hate speech and insults channeled through the media and called for an end to the trend.
“Whilst the skies have not tumbled on our beloved country and should never, let us never cease to ponder over the consequences of the venomous, pernicious and satanic language in the media on the fate of nations and the people”, he said, and cited Rwanda and Cote d’Ivoire as examples.
Speaking at the swearing in of Mr Kudzoe Batse as a member of the NMC in Accra, Ambassador Kabral called on the media to unite the country and not plunge it into war.
Mr Batse who replaces Mr. Samuel Appiah Ampofo on the Commission swore the oath of Secrecy and oath of Allegiance.
Reflecting on the role of the NMC in the country’s democracy, Ambassador Amihere said the NMC which has a rainbow composition with representative from the presidency, parliament and the media among other institutions was very conscious and committed to its constitutional mandate to promote not only a free but also a responsible press.
He noted that the Commission had worked effectively since its 17 years of existence and had firmly entrenched in the constitution the need for the state owned media to be better insulated from government control, and to be responsible for the appointment of chief executives and governing boards of state own media.
According to Ambassador Kabral though Ghana continued to be rated as one of the countries in the world with a free press, the NMC could not beat it chest to say that the country had a responsible and accountable one.
“Achieving that balance of a free but responsible press is our objective”, he said, and added that regrettably the NMC had not been well equipped and provided with the necessary logistics as stated in article 167(b) of the constitution.
The NMC, he said, was the least resourced of all governance institutions and yet it had to supervise over 200 radio stations, 1000 registered newspapers and magazines and 10 televisions stations and the emerging new media.
Ambassador Kabral said: “I have heard people saying that the NMC cannot bite” adding “the emphasis should not be on the biting because the Commission lacked the stomach, it is underfed, so much so that there can be no supply line for teeth to bite even if the NMC wanted to”.
Mrs. Sophia Adinyira, a Justice of the Supreme Court, who administered the oath admitted that the challenges facing the NMC was enormous but urged members not to be swayed by what people would say in their quest to maintain high journalistic standards.
She noted that there was increase and intense media scrutiny of judicial decisions as well as the robust public debate of the issues.
Mrs. Adinyira said that the judiciary welcomed academic criticism and the review of their judgments as it was good for the development of jurisprudence and also made the judiciary accountable.
She, however, said that sometimes the debates were carried too far, sweeping, unsavory and unwanted attacks on judges due to misinformation or ignorance.
Mrs. Adinyira urged the NMC to encourage Journalists who were lawyers to take up reporting and reviewing of the courts’ decision for edification of the public.
“Mr. Batse I urge you and other members of the NMC not to wait for complaints to be made against the media before you act in situations which obviously need your immediate intervention. The Ghanaian public is calling on the NMC to sanitize the media”, she added.