Ghana Television (GTV) was last week Friday compelled to take off the newspaper review component of the morning show programme, following a protest over the composition of the panel members.
The national television network did not explain to viewers why the programme was all of a sudden taken off the air. The Director General of the corporation later explained after public outcry that the programme was taken off air because the composition of the panel appeared to have favoured the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
GTV apparently took the decision to abrogate the programme because Mr. Richard Quashiga, a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) called the Director General on phone to complain about the unfair representation of the panel that were discussing the President's State of the Nation address.
Mr. Quashiga admitted in an interview with Joy FM that he did call the Director General to complain about the panel, which featured two NPP sympathisers and only one from his party. He however, explained that he did not call for the abrupt end of the programme.
Article 162 clause 4 of the 1992 constitution states: Editors and Publishers of newspapers and other Institutions of mass media shall not be subject to control by or interference by government, nor shall they be penalised or harassed for their editorial opinions and views, or content of their publications. Despite this provision in the constitution, almost every government that this country has had, tried to control the editorial policy of the GTV. The Chronicle finds this behaviour as a threat to our democracy and we call on civil society organizations to rise up against it.
Though we concede that article 163 of the same constitution enjoys the state owned media to give fair opportunities and facilities for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinion, we think Mr. Quashiga went to the extreme when he called to complain about the unfair representation on the programme. He could have waited for the programme to end and then make his case officially known to the management of the corporation, but he chose the opposite way because he thinks his party is in power.
The Chronicle is appealing to government and members of the ruling party to allow journalists at GTV the chance to work as professionals, without any interference. As the New Patriotic Party (NPP) did sometime ago, if NDC also feels that GBC is not being fair to them, they can only go to court and allow the due process of law to determine the case. Picking a phone to call an Editor or Director of a State owned media house when you are not even a Minister of State, just because you feel your party is not fairly treated in a publication or programme being aired should never happen again.
This is not to absolve the Director General of GBC for his role in this whole drama. As a leader of an Institution, he should bear in mind that ultimate responsibility for his decisions rests with him alone. Never again should he allow himself to be stampeded in taking decisions which might be at variance with his professional thinking and ethical conscience.
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."