General News of Tuesday, 10 February 2015
The MFWA commends the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for resorting to the National Media Commission (NMC), rather than the law courts, for seeking redress to what he deemed defamatory publications against him by five newspapers.
A statement signed by NMC Chairman Kabral Blay-Amihere on February 6, 2015 said that on June 16, 2014, Akufo-Addo filed a complaint at the Commission against the five newspapers namely, Daily Post, Ghanaian Lens, The Enquirer, The Informer and the Al-Hajj for publications that he described as “offensive and derogatory”. The said articles were published between June 8-14, 2014.
Akufo-Addo complained to the NMC that the “substance of the stories complained of, are in all essentials utterly false, a product of the imagination of the publishers of the newspapers” and requested that the “severest sanctions to be visited on the newspapers in question in accordance of Act 449” which sets up the NMC.
Following its investigations, the NMC concluded that the said publications were inappropriate and consequently directed the five newspapers to retract their articles and apologise to Akufo-Addo for the said publications.
The NMC statement said officials of the five newspapers failed to honour invitations to appear before the NMC to settle the matter.
The MFWA finds such disregard for the Commission by the media very unfortunate and urges the media to accord the Commission the respect and full co-operation especially on matters of complaints by individuals so as to prevent aggrieved persons from resorting to the courts.
Just recently a Fast Track High Court in Accra ordered General Portfolio Limited, publishers of The Chronicle, a privately-owned newspaper; its acting editor, Emmanuel Akli; and the paper’s business editor, Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, to pay Gh¢200,000 for publishing articles deemed offensive towards one Isaac Dzihlornu, an Immigration Officer.
Similarly, last year, the Daily Guide and The Informer newspapers were slapped with Gh¢250,000 and Gh¢300,000 fines, respectively, for publishing articles deemed libellous against General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress and a timber company, Evans Timbers. Considering the Ghanaian media landscape, such heavy fines are punitive and have the potential of crippling the media.
The MFWA appeals to individuals and the public to continue to resort to the NMC’s dispute resolution mechanism for seeking redress to media violations and thus, commends all those who have over the period, resorted to the NMC for resolving media-related disputes.