26.06.2004 General News

Unbridled phone-in calls can plunge country into chaos - Minister

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Sunyani (B/A) June 26, GNA - Mr Yaw Adjei Duffour, Deputy Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, on Friday noted that if the ill-tempered language used by some people on radio phone-in programmes was not stopped it could plunge the country into chaos. He, therefore, suggested to radio station owners to liaise with the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) to run courses for journalists and radio presenters to upgrade the knowledge and skills.

Mr Adjei-Duffour was speaking at this year's celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Sunyani. The celebration, organized by the Brong Ahafo Regional branch of Ghana Journalists' Association (GJA), was under the theme: "Radio: Prospects and challenges in nation building".

Mr Adjei-Duffour said the role of radio in national development was indispensable, saying the medium was supposed to be used to inform, educate and entertain the people and not to divide them. "Radio is not only used to disseminate government policies and programmes, but also used to educate the people health, agriculture, good governance and other pertinent issues that affect the lives of the citizenry". Mr Adjei-Duffour said, "The use of local languages by some radio stations to explain policies and programmes to our illiterate brothers and sisters is a plus for the radio stations." He said the repeal of the criminal libel law had further empowered the people to criticize the Government and persons in authority without fear.

Mr Adjei-Duffour said this had enable the government to receive the necessary feed back on its policies and programmes before their implementation. He urged journalists to be guided by their professional ethics, especially during the electioneering campaigns.

Mr Lawrence L. Mensah, a High Court Judge in Sunyani said the repeal of the criminal libel law was no licence for journalists to use slanderous language and said offenders could still be punished.

Mr Leonard Victor Amengor, Chairman of the Regional Ghana Journalist Association (GJA), said the celebration was aimed at evaluating the work of the media and suggesting ways for improvement. He said the theme of the celebration was appropriate in view of the unrestrained and sometimes irresponsible comments and utterances that now seem to dominate our airwaves.

Mr Amengor said, "Unsubstantiated allegations are made against innocent people, half truths and sometimes blatant lies are propagated as truths, which go to jeopardize the integrity of victims and threaten to fragment if not destroy our entire country". He, however, said the Association would not tolerate attacks on journalists by aggrieved people in the region. Mr Amengor said "The courts are there and so is the National Media Commission, where aggrieved people can lodge their complaints for redress".

The Most Reverend Matthew Gyamfi, Catholic Bishop of Sunyani, urged the media to help create a congenial environment for free, fair and successful elections in December. He said the radio could become a powerful tool for development only when it was operated without political bias and called on radio stations not to concentrate its programmes on politics but to discuss social issues that affect the development of the people.

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