Boards of state owned media reminded of mandate of ensuring independent media

BY: Timothy Gobah
Nana  Kwesi Gyan Apenteng
Nana Kwesi Gyan Apenteng

The state-owned media remain the bedrock of media standards in the country, the Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Nana Kwesi Gyan Apenteng, has said.

Although some private media operated before and after independence, he said, it was the state-owned media that were generally referred to as "Ghana media".
Unfortunately, he said, the state-owned media were faced with many challenges, not the least being new technology and new norms.

Nana Gyan Apenteng made the statement when he addressed an orientation for members of the governing boards of state-owned media organisations at Elmina last Saturday.

Participants were taken through topics such as: "State-owned media today: A closer look at the 1992 Constitution”, “The Supreme Court; the state-owned media and the Constitution; Case studies (NPP versus GBC, NMC versus Attorney General)”, “NMC guidelines on fair and equitable coverage of political parties by the state-owned Media, Adequate Response to NPP”.

Public interest


Nana Gyan Apenteng made it clear that in the NMC's desire to regulate the state-owned media, it would not lay out a set of imperatives to impose or even guide them.

The orientation, he stated, was, therefore, to remind the governing boards of their mandate of ensuring a free and independent media insulated from governmental control.

Experiences

Sharing his experiences of the state-owned media before 1992, Nana Gyan Apenteng said the Constitution had provided broad guidelines to enable the media to perform, without fear or favour.

He said sometimes glimpses of the past reared their ugly head in the state-owned media because the editors and managers brought the templates of the past when governments imposed on the editors and directed them to become megaphones of ruling governments.

He encouraged the boards, the management, editors and journalists to educate themselves on provisions in the Constitution that related to the independence of the media to guide them in their work, adding: "The state-owned media are not there to satisfy any group but to promote national interest and hold the government to account to the people."

The Executive Secretary of the NMC, Mr George Sarpong, said the job imposed on the governing boards and editors was a difficult one but their contributions would sustain the nation.

“We do not have the resources in terms of money, but in terms of intellectual resources the governing boards have to ensure the viability of the state media,” he said.
Representatives of the boards of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), News Agency (GNA), the New Times Corporation (NTC), the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), spoke about their challenges and appealed to the NMC to help overcome them.

They said it was difficult for the state-owned media to attain independence, as enshrined in the Constitution, and suggested to the NMC to make a strong case to the government to retool the state-owned media as one of the critical assets of the state.