The National Media Commission (NMC) on Tuesday reminded the media of their obligation to ensure free, fair, credible and peaceful elections on December 7.
A statement signed by Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere, Chairman of the NMC and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra said over the last three years the NMC in collaboration with several institutions had organized a number of activities and published guidelines on various aspects of journalism all with the aim of ensuring responsible journalism.
It said the institutions included the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and the Private Newspapers Association (PNA).
The statement said the NMC expected all political actors and the general public to so conduct themselves in the few days before and after the elections to maintain the peace, stability and unity of the country.
It said the media as the institution that will report on all events and issues related to the elections had a greater responsibility to truthfully and accurately report the electoral process and must not become the conduit for the fuelling of tension, rancour and bitterness, or the vehicle for the propagation of sectarian party views.
The statement said: “The NMC expects the media to abide by the GJA’s and NMC’s guidelines for political Journalism and elections and must only report certified reports from the Electoral Commission. Where the results are provisional the media and journalists are expected clearly to say so.”
It said: “The media is reminded that only the Chairman of the Electoral Commission can declare the eventual winners of both the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections and he must be allowed to execute his Constitutional duties.”
The statement also directed the media not to publish political messages and adverts 24hours before the elections of December 7, 2012 as stated in its guidelines for political advertising.
It said the directive was in consonance with the ruling of the Electoral Commission that there should be no political campaigning throughout the country 24hours before the elections.
“Accordingly radio houses, television stations and the print media should bear this directive in mind and not allow their space, platforms and programmes to be used by political spokespersons or any persons to directly or indirectly campaign.”
The NMC reminds all and sundry that any complaints against the media should be reported to the Commission which had set up a special committee to respond quickly to complaints about the media before, during and after the election.”
The statement said: “The NMC, fully conscious of the consequences of irresponsible and inflammatory journalism and its own responsibilities to stem the tide of such journalism will in exercise its full authority and in collaboration with National Communications Authority take all appropriate measures that no section of the media by its conduct plunges the nation into election violence of any kind.”
It said where any broadcast station aired statements or messages calculated to incite one section of the public to violence against any individual or group or to cause the breach of the peace, the NMC will in collaboration with the NCA take effective measures, including in extreme cases the suspension of the license to ensure that sanity prevailed and that the peace and security of the country was assured during this critical political season.
The statement said the frequency upon which broadcasting was carried remained a public resources and the only justification for its use was therefore to serve the public good and contribute to enlightenment, peace and National cohesion.
It said the NMC trusted the Ghanaian media which had played a major role in the democratic process of the country, will be up to its responsibilities in the coming days and weeks.
“The Commission shall on its part and in consonance with its constitutional mandate continue to work to guarantee the freedom and independence of the media.” GNA