Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere (3rd left) with some journalists from the State Media

THE NATIONAL Media Commission (NMC) has called on editors of state-owned media institutions not to allow their media houses to be used as mouthpieces for government as the 2012 electioneering campaign draws near.

At a day’s workshop organized for governing boards, chief executives and editors of state-owned media on Tuesday in Accra by the NMC, participants were advised to stay away from doing public relations stories for government since such responsibilities did not form part of their mandate.

The workshop, themed ‘Ensuring Free, Fair and Peaceful Elections – The Role and Responsibility of the Media’, was aimed at ensuring that the NMC and editors approached their assignments this year, fully aware of their obligations under the constitution.

The workshop further sought to outdoor and examine the NMC’s Reviewed Guidelines for Fair and Equitable Coverage of Political Parties by state-owned media and the NMC’s Guidelines on Political Journalism.

Editors of state-owned media were further reminded by the NMC to be critical of government and hold it accountable.

The Chairman of the NMC, Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere, in an opening remark, reminded the editors of Article 55 (11) which directs that: “The state shall provide fair opportunity to all political parties to represent their programmes to the public by ensuring equal access to the state-owned media.”

Explaining further, he quoted Article 55 (12) which states that: “All presidential candidates shall be given the same amount of time and space on state-owned media to present their programmes to the people.”

According to him, several provisions in the country’s constitution provided a yardstick for state-owned media to give fair opportunities and facilities for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions.

He reiterated that the appointment of editors did not lie in the hands of government as it was now the duty of the NMC and the governing boards to appoint editors or remove them.

Ambassador Blay-Amihere noted that in the NMC’s quest to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections, it expected state-owned media to hold in-house seminars to discuss the guidelines and use them in addition to the Code of Ethics of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) as a benchmark for ensuring adherence to constitutional obligations. 

During discussion time, it was stated clearly that the president had access to state-owned media when dealing with broad national issues, but not party politics related to electioneering campaigns.

The NMC was also asked by Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo of the Daily Graphic to take the necessary steps to strengthen state-owned media in the discharge of their duties.

Akoto Ampaw, a legal practitioner, in a presentation on The 1992 Constitution and the role of state-owned media, said the challenge on ethical principles in the media sometimes conflicted with journalistic principles.

He therefore urged the editors to do their best to stand up against sensationalism.

By Stella Danso Addai

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