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The state-owned Ghana Television has been accused of bias in its coverage of the recent rallies held by the two leading political parties, the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Greater Accra Region.

The station is said to have given ample airtime to the NDC over the NPP.

Dr Frankie Asare-Donkoh, a former deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), who made the observation, has petitioned the Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) over the issue.

On Saturday, February 18, 2012, the NPP held its Greater Accra regional rally at Mantse Agbonaa in Accra.

About a month later, on Saturday, March 17, 2012, the NDC also held a similar at the same venue.

Though he missed the mid-day news of GTV for that day and could not say whether the station reported the rally in that bulletin or not, Dr Asare-Donkoh indicated, “I watched the GTV 7pm prime news bulletin for that day (Saturday, 18th February, 2012) and to my surprise GTV did not report on the rally held by the NPP.”

In the petition, which is dated March 20, 2012 and copied the National Media Commission (NMC) and the GJA, Dr Asare-Donkoh, who is a lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology stated, “During the 7pm prime news bulletin on the same day, GTV reported on the NDC rally as its first story and continued with a second story also on the rally, the stories together taking between five (5) and seven (7) minutes.”

As a journalist and a former Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), I am deeply worried about this practice by GTV,” he noted, asking rhetorically, “Why did GTV not see the need to broadcast the NPP rally on the day of the event but found it appropriate to broadcast the NDC rally on the day of the event?”

He could equally not fathom what informed GTV’s decision to carry two separate stories (the lead story and the second) on the NDC rally in the same bulletin.

Considering the fact that the Ghanaian media had come a long way, the petitioner emphasised, “it would be suicidal for GTV and for that matter any of the state-owned media in particular to take us back to the old days of media sycophancy on the part of journalists working in state-owned media institutions”.

“There are very fine, competent and professional journalists in all the state-owned media including GTV, and for that matter I get worried when such clear and blatant unprofessional practices continue to be noticed in the performance of state-owned media institution like GTV,” he stated.

With the 2012 general elections just a few months away, the former Deputy General Secretary of GJA stressed the need for all media houses, especially the state-owned, to put in place a code for election reporting to guide their staff on the need for fairness, objectivity and others.

He stated, “It appears to me that GBC has not done that otherwise GTV would not have exhibited the bias and discriminatory judgement it made on the reportage of the NPP and NDC rallies.”

“Those of us who have been in the media for a while, at least since 1992, have memories of how some state-owned media houses including GTV had behaved unfairly and unethically towards certain opposition parties in the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and the 2008 elections,” Dr Asare-Donkoh stated, while expressing the wish to see a change in this year’s election reportage; particularly by the state-owned GTV which had in previous election years received much accusations of biased reporting.

His fear was that “if GTV should continue the path it chooses in reporting the two rallies, it would do a great disservice to Ghana and Ghanaians, considering its national reach and the power of television particularly in electioneering campaigning”, stressing the need for the station to be brought to order.

Dr Asare-Donkoh has since asked the NMC and the GJA to institute investigations and take the necessary action to prevent similar occurrences of what he described as “shameful and unprofessional” practices during this election year.

From: dailyguideghana.com

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