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30.10.2008 Politics

NMC launches guidelines for coverage of political parties


The National Media Commission (NMC), on Thursday outdoored its guidelines for reportage of political parties, with the hope that it would address imbalances in coverage of political parties by the state-owned media.

The guidelines set the framework for the state-owned media to honour their constitutional obligation by providing fair and equitable coverage for all political entities and their activities.

The 24-page document enjoins the state-owned media to balance the interest of all political parties with the overall aim of fulfilling the rights of Ghanaians to truthful and unbiased information to deepen the process of democratic governance and human rights.

The guidelines also set out clear procedures for settling disputes arising out of complaints of unfairness in reportage, as well as offer practical assistance on covering opinion polls.

Its guiding principle is derived from Articles 55(11) and 163 of the 1992 Constitution that obliges the management and editors of the state-owned media to be impartial, showing neither affection nor ill-will towards any particular group in the community be it political, economic or social. Their facilities being national assets, they should be available to all.

The document addresses unambiguously issues pertaining to language, incumbency, spokespersons, endorsements, political advertisements, news coverage, press releases, interviews, confidentiality, opinion polls, elections day coverage, protection of journalists, broadcast and conflict of interest, among others.

Mr Paul Adu-Gyamfi, NMC Chairman, who launched the document in Accra, expressed the hope that the application of the guidelines by the state-owned media would lead to reflections about the questions of fairness anticipated in Article 163 of the 1992 Constitution.

He said it was the legitimate expectation of the people that the state-owned media would offer equal opportunities and divergent views to be expressed as the country debated the choices that needed to be made in its quest for progress.

The American Ambassador to Ghana, Donald Teitelbaum, lauded the initiative, which is supported by the US government.

"The media must be unbiased, truthful and independent. We look forward to applauding Ghana after the December elections", he said.

The Chief Executive Officers of the four state-owned media enterprises pledged to abide by the rules set out by the guidelines, committing themselves and their outlets to providing balanced, fair, truthful, accurate and unbiased coverage of political parties, their candidates and their activities.