Giving NMC Powers To Bite Dangerous For Media
–Pratt, Kabral, Others Insist
Mr.Kabral Blay-Amihere, a writer and former chairman of the NMC; Mr. Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, a journalist and communications consultant, and Mr. Kwesi Pratt, Jnr., a journalist and editor of the Insight newspaper, insist such powers could be used as a tool to control the media and erode the hard-fought strides chalked in safeguarding the independence of the media under the 4th Republic.
Making individual contributions at a seminar organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs on “Reviewing Ghana’s 1992 Constitution” on Tuesday, this week, the journalists said the freedom enjoyed by the media today did not come by chance and should not be taken for granted.
Mr.Blay-Amihere said the NMC was not constitutionally designed to control the media, explaining that “the framers of the constitution did not want a situation where we would return to the bad old days.”
He said the Constitution however placed some limitations on the liberty of the media as a measure to make the media responsible.
“I will never support making the NMC another tool for oppression,” he said, and indicated that the mediation tool deployed by the commission had been useful in resolving grievances.
Mr. Pratt, on his part, said many journalists were tortured and some lost their lives just by expressing their views in the past, and cautioned that any attempt to offer a regulator the powers to “control” the work of the media should be resisted by media practitioners.
He said the framers of the constitution were careful about what powers could be used on journalists, hence their decision not to give the NMC such powers.
“I am surprised that practitioners are constantly calling for teeth to bite them. The NMC was never intended to have teeth,” Mr. Pratt said.
Mr.Sakyi-Addo, contributing, said many young people failed to appreciate how far the media had evolved and the source of the freedom enjoyed by journalists today.
He said the court should remain the ideal quarters for aggrieved individuals to seek legal redress if they did not want to go to the NMC for amicable resolution.
“The media must strive for responsibility and respect of citizens. That cannot be put in the Constitution but it depends on our own morals.” Mr.Sakyi-Addo said.
Mr. Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo, Chairman of the NMC, who graced the event, also contributed to the discussion.
He said it was important for the NMC and media outlets to adopt dialogue and mediation as an effective tool to resolve grievances.
“The press council concept should be able to bring people together. It is not about control. It is facilitation from both sides so that the people in the media will tone down once the public will be more receptive of criticism,” he said.