NMC calls for debate on national media policy
The National Media Commission (NMC) has called for a national debate to help reconstruct a national media policy to strike the right balance between freedom and responsibility.
Mr Kabral Blay-Amihere, Chairman of the NMC, said: ‘The time is indeed ripe for us to give serious consideration, backed up with action for legislative reforms and the passage of laws for broadcasting and the right to information.
‘Our reflection on the state of the media and the role of the NMC should hopefully enrich all such needed legislative reforms,’ he said.
Speaking at the launch of the 20th anniversary of the NMC in Accra, Mr Blay-Amihere said as the NMC marked its 20th birthday, it was important that all stakeholders — the media itself, government, parliament, civil societies and the general public —found time to join the national debate and dialogue to assess the NMC and the media as a whole.
The NMC, established in July, 1993 by an Act of Parliament (Act 449), was first chaired by Professor Kofi Kumado, who headed a 15-member team to lay the foundation for the commission.
The first commission, which had members such as Mr Sam B. Quaicoe, Mr Berifi Apenteng, Mrs Esi Sutherland-Addy, the late Peter Ala Adjetey and Nana Essilfie Conduah as the first Executive Secretary, started its work after it was sworn into office on October 13, 1993 by the then Chief Justice, Justice P.E.N.K. Archer.
Accordingly, the current commission, which is the seventh at its last meeting, resolved that October 13, should be marked as NMC Day.
Mr Blay-Amihere said the anniversary provided a golden opportunity to review the state of the Ghanaian media since January, 1992, when Ghana’s constitution removed restrictions on free press and free speech, resulting in the current liberalisation of the airwaves and expanded media space for unprecedented citizen participation in the media.
He said it was necessary to look back at how both the NMC and the media, under its watch, had fared over the past 20 years.
He said much as the media of Ghana had merited rare reviews for its contribution to democracy in the country, there was also a strong body of evidence that pointed to public disappointment about how the media had stretched the freedoms guaranteed by the constitution to disgusting depths of irresponsibility.
The Chairman said elsewhere in other Commonwealth countries, there had been issues as to what measures and regulations should be put in place to eradicate media excesses.
‘Here in Ghana, there is a strong advocacy for the imposition of a regime of sanctions to ensure media accountability and responsibility outside the existing laws of libel.’
Mr Blay-Amihere, therefore, called on all stakeholders to help assess the work of the NMC, against the background of what the 1992 Constitution (Chapter 12, Article 167) had mandated the commission to do, as well as in the NMC Act.
He announced activities and programmes lined-up for the 20th anniversary to include media engagement on the role of the NMC and the media as a whole, engagement with other stakeholders, regional fora, launch of a new monitoring project and website and anniversary lecture.
Others include symposia on the mandate of the NMC, anniversary conference, anniversary publications and a cocktail and dinner that would bring together past and present members, the media and stakeholders.
All these events began this month and would run through till March 2014.
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