National Media Commission hints of withdrawing licenses of media houses bent on plunging Ghana into chaos
The National Media Commission (NMC) has warned that it will be compelled to withdraw licenses of media houses, which use their airwaves to preach violence and instigate people before, during, and after this year’s general elections.
The NMC said, it is monitoring and will continue to monitor the airwaves of over 400 radio stations and other news portals to ensure that practitioners adhere to the basic ethics of their profession.
The warning follows several concerns raised by ordinary citizens and identifiable groups about the conduct of some radio presenters and their producers’ unprofessional behavior in moderating talk shows.
Some of the concerns bothered on the topics and issues tabled before panelists whom they said have little understanding of the issues before them.
A member of the commission’s media advisory committee in the region, who is also the chairman of Ghana Journalists Association Northern Chapter, Mr. Caesar Abagali disclosed this during a meeting with news editors, some media house managers and religious groups in Tamale.
Mr. Abagali said the GJA will not intervene in resolving a matter of a media house, which refuses to adhere to the ethics and cautioned programme managers to take control of what their presenters do on the air in order not incite or instigate violence.The meeting was to find way of nibbing in the bud, any pertinent issues during the election which could spark violence.
A member of NMC regional advisory committee Hajia Ajara Telly, commended media practitioners in the region for, at least, not engaging in reporting that could disturb the peace in the region.
Religious bodies urges media to be circumspect on Election Day
Some religious leaders and identifiable groups at the meeting called on the media to be circumspect in their reporting on issues that have the tendency of creating problems before, during and after December 7 polls.
According to them, professional conduct of media practitioners could help reduce tension in the polarized Ghanaian society even before election day. The religious leaders were not happy that some radio presenters have allowed politicians to buy their conscience which is detrimental to the interest of their listeners.
Pouring out their frustrations at the National Media Commission (MNC) media advisory committee in Tamale, the chief Imam of the Lamashegu central mosque, Sheik Illiyasu Abdallah urged journalists and media practitioners who will be reporting on this year’s election to try and avoid sensationalism or exaggerating figures from polling stations to favour certain parties.
Such reporting, he observed, could spark violence in some areas. On their roles towards ensuring peace, Sheik Abdallah said for the past three weeks, he has dedicated his sermons to the need for peaceful co-existence, adding that he expects journalists who are stakeholders to behave well to ensure peace in the region.
He also blamed the security agencies, especially the police, for reneging on their responsibilities when it comes to responding to potential violence in some areas in Tamale. Sheik Abdallah alleged that some of the police are reported to have said that they are not from the region and whatever happens is none of their business.
“I had to go personally to the police stations to report an incident where two political parties were planning to hold rallies at the same venue which was a recipe for confusion,” he said.
Another Imam, with over 15 years of leading large congregational prayers, challenged journalists to go beyond reporting on conflict issues and probe the content of sermons Imams deliver. He suggested that scholars and clerics in the region begin editing some of the sermons from the various mosques because some of them are skewed towards certain purposes.
“The media should have been monitoring sermons from the various mosques because most of the sermons are a potential for creating religious violence and I have never seen that in my 15 years of leading Jummah prayers in different Mosques,” an Imam lamented.
The sermons, he added, cut across all religious divides, Islam and Christianity. He continued: “Let’s hear some frustrated Imams lamenting about how some radio stations presenters conduct themselves.”
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police Commander of Tamale, DSP Wisdom Lavoe in an interaction with the media assure that, the police will do all they could to ensure peace in the area. He also cautioned media practitioners to examine their information regarding the elections well before putting into the public domain.
DSP Lavoe allayed journalists fears of being attacked by supporters of political parties and manhandled by some security officers on election day, assuring them that they will protected to carried out their duties.
The northern regional police public relations officer, ASP Ebenezer Tetteh said, the PR unit has been converted to an information center for all media practitioners to call in and verified issues relating to security during the polls. He said PR officers will stationed in his office at the police northern region headquarters to respond to concerns.