Stakeholders at a consultative meeting on the passage of a broadcasting law to regulate broadcasting activities in the country have unanimously agreed that the time for such a law is more rife than ever.
According to them, the lack of a law to regulate the activities of the media was causing a lot of threats to the morale fibre of society due to the sharp rise in content such as portrayal of money doubling activities, rituals, pornography and the sale and advertisement of unapproved products, among others.
The Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, said the commission was constrained in ensuring that media organisations did the right thing, “all we can do is appeal to them. Initially they agree but by the next day, you see them going back to their old ways” as that was their only means of survival.
“In recent times, people expect so much from the commission even though we live in an era of the rule of law and due process and not arbitrariness in taking decisions,” he said.
Recounting some of the difficulties that the commission had faced, Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh said over the years, it had tried to translate some of its guidelines into regulations but faced obstacles as the government had repealed the criminal libel law and, therefore, it seemed as though “it was giving with its right hand and taking away with the left hand”.
It was, therefore, not prudent to translate the standards of broadcasting into regulations, he indicated. Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh, himself a renowned journalist, stressed the need for a road map to direct broadcasting in the country, emphasising that the NMC was ready to support the passage of such a law.
“We should let our MPs understand that the law is a priority that we want and, therefore, they must pass it,” Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh said.
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah-Dame, said the Constitution itself recognised the need for reasonable limitations to be imposed by law based on public order and reality on broadcasting in the country.
He blamed the lack of passage of the bill on the inertia of Parliament ,saying it was responsible for the absence of the legislation which gave expression to the reasonable limitation. According to him, the diversity and complexity of expression and broadcast in today’s world, made it imperative to regulate the media. He pledged his ministry’s unflinching support to ensure the passage of the bill into law.
The Minister of Communications and Digitisation, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful, in her submission, said the passage of the law was long overdue. She said what was happening in the current media landscape was unfortunate and thus there was the urgent need to regulate activities to bring sanity into the system.
The minister said working together, “we will be able to craft a solution that will be acceptable to everyone” and that it was absolutely critical to have a broadcasting regulation to guide the content that was produced.
She was of the view that since social media and traditional media had a thin line separating them, “the rules which guide traditional media must be crafted in a way that will guide new media as well”.
The Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, in an opening remark, said over the years, the country had worked to deepen its media freedom as majority of the people supported media freedom.
He said in the same vein, it was imperative that everyone helped to curb the emerging threats to media freedom in the country. He enumerated some of the threats to include the sharp rise in content described as unwholesome by citizens.
Mr Nkrumah, who said he was of the belief that there was room to address the challenges, called on all to support efforts at passing the bill.