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29.12.2005 General News

Media Commission needs adequate financing - Chairman

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Accra, Dec. 29, GNA - Mr Paul Adu-Gyamfi, Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), on Thursday asked the State to sufficiently resource the Commission to effectively carry out its constitutional mandate. He said the Commission, which was charged with the enormous responsibility of promoting freedom and independent media to enhance the democracy was ill equipped.

Addressing a two-day workshop organized for members of the Commission on functions of the NMC, Mr Adu-Gyamfi said the Commission lacked the power under the law that set it up to summon people to appear before it to settle disputes. "The Commission only thrives on the goodwill and largesse of concerned individuals in settlement of complaints lodged before it by aggrieved persons" he said. He called for a critical examination of Section 675 of Act 499 that placed the role of the some members of the Commission on part time basis saying; "this does not augur well for the Commission".

Mr Joerg Bergsterman, Resident Director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, said the NMC was a critical institution in the consolidation of the fragile democracy. He urged the Commission to ensure an objective, non-partisan State media and to constantly promote independent media and foster freedom of speech. Mr Bergsterman observed that the NMC was better positioned to reflect on its legal position and to determine the way forward.

Mr Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh, Editor of the Daily Graphic, urged the Commission to get it acts together to be on top particularly in the area of appointing Board of Directors of State-owned media organizations adding: "It would be useful if the Commission keeps to set guidelines in the process." He said once that was done, it must be followed and the Commission rather than any other body should effectively determine the membership. Mr Ayeboafoh indicated that the Commission must not wait until the tenure of the Board had ended before initiating the process of reconstitution because that could give room for lobbying. He noted that to prove that the Commission appointed Boards of State Media organisations, it must be actively involved in the determination of their service conditions.

Equally important the NMC must always provide orientation to Boards Members on corporate governance to enable them to accept the limits of the boundaries between policy formulation and implementation. Mr Ayeboafoh said on the issue of electronic media, particularly in frequency management, it was necessary for the NMC to push for legislation to have the responsibility for the management of frequency for radio and television, which would be assigned to it by the National Communication Authority. He stated that the budgets of State-owned media, still under subvention must be channelled through the NMC to Parliament rather than the Ministry Of Information. "Thus, the budget for Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and the Ghana News Agency (GNA) must have to pass through the NMC and presented to Parliament the same way that the budget for the NMC is discussed directly with the Ministry of Finance and Parliament," Mr Ayeboafoh said.

The Editor also suggested that the Commission revisited its proposal for legislation on broadcasting and rejoinders as the absence of Broadcasting Law inhibited the Commission from coming out with a Legislative Instrument (LI). Friedrich Ebert Foundation sponsored the workshop.

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