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30.03.2004 General News

Radio stations promoting democracy

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Accra, March 30, GNA - Professor Kwesi Yankah, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ghana, Legon, said the proliferation of independent radio stations has assisted in improving indigenous languages and enhancing decision making thereby promoting the country's young democracy. He said radio stations have also helped to enrich, preserve and revive Ghanaian languages adding that their use was on the decline in the media.

Prof Yankah made these remarks at the annual lecture in the humanities, organised by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) on the topic: "Language, mass media and democracy in Ghana, " in Accra on Tuesday. The lecture discussed the extent to which emerging trends in language use in the media, particularly the private radio stations has helped to add value to indigenous languages as well as foster greater participation in decision making process.

Prof Yankah said in spite of the positive contribution to democracy and the valorisation of local languages, the medium of radio has sometimes been used to foment crisis. He said sections of the public are of the view that interactive radio programmes should be abolished especially as the country enters an election era, since it could whip up ethnic sentiments thereby threatening social stability.

Prof Yankah said phone-in programmes should not be condemned and suggested that attempts should be made to educate hosts of radio programmes on how to regulate discussions to forestall insults. He urged government to establish community radio stations throughout the country to facilitate vertical and horizontal communication, between the people and their leaders.

Prof Yankah: "In a meaningful democracy, the capacity to speak in indigenous languages should be considered as essential to development." Free speech is indeed a mirage, if prevailing language policies do not promote self expression in the mother tongue of the people" he said.

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