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30.10.2005 General News

Ghana needs prudent broadcasting law

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Sogakope, (V/R) Oct. 30, GNA- Reverend Professor Emeritus John Pobee, a retired lecturer of the University of Ghana, Legon, has said Ghana needs a prudent broadcasting law that would ensure sanity and decency on the airwaves.

He said, such a law should be pluralistic, embodying the interest of the socio cultural perspectives of the society with the legitimate freedom protection and expression of people as its focus. Professor Pobee stated this when he gave a lecture at a two-day stakeholders workshop on Broadcasting Law at the weekend at Sogakope. It was under the theme, "Towards a Broadcasting Law About, for, by and of the People of Ghana," with participants drawn from the media, especially the electronic broadcasting regulators, key decision makers, representatives of civil society groups, including community consultation groups.

The workshop, which among other things, seeks to generate dialogue among stakeholders to build consensus on the broadcasting law, was aimed at deepening participants understanding of experience and aspirations of broadcasting in Ghana and how they relate to and are impacted by policy, legislation and regulations.

The Ghana Advocacy Steering Community for a National Broadcasting Law organized the workshop, with support from the Rights and Voice Initiative.

Professor Pobee said the airwaves needed decency in language, content, context and presentation and with the people's interest should not be jeopardized by commercial interests.

He also noted that what is important is not only the enactment of the law but its implementation since there were many cases of laws not being enforced in the country.

Professor Pobee said sensitisation on the law must go alongside its enforcement.

Mr Berifi Apenteng Chairman of the Advocacy Committee said the proliferation of the airwaves in the absence of a regulatory law to direct performance is a major setback in the interest of the larger society.

He said though it is the radio stations that have been allotted the frequencies, the airwaves belong to the people and who deserve the right to education, entertainment and other benefits of the media. Mr Kwao Ansah, Chief Executive Officer of TV Africa also of the Steering Committee noted that the electronic media have not done well at self-censorship, putting the nation's development priorities against self-interest.

He also noted that the same media is sometimes a tool for settling personal and political scores, polarizing the nation instead of uniting it.

Mr Yaw Owusu Addo, Director of Radio of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) said lack of regulations, funding, including the non-review of GBC's old statute is making things difficult for GBC. Alhaji Seidik Ahmed also of the committee said the consequences of misinformation on the airwaves include a disorganized society, stating however that the expected law must not control but harmonize the differences.

He called for an enhancement of context and text on the airwaves by harmonizing the operations of the National Communication Authority (NCA) and the National Media Commission (NMC), explaining that the current system where the two operate as purely separate entities without linkages is not the best.