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General News Wed, 3 Dec 2003

NMC has performed creditably- Acquah-Hayford

Ho, Dec. 3, GNA- A former Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr Tim Acquah-Hayford, on Wednesday said the Commission had performed its constitutional mandate creditably in the past 10 years despite the challenges it had to surmount.

"There have been instances of shortfalls not due to its inactivity", he said.

Mr Acquah- Hayford was speaking on the topic, "ten years of the NMC" at a three-day workshop with the theme: "A decade of the NMC- Challenges and prospects for the future" in Ho.

The workshop is being attended by the Parliamentary Committees on Communication and Public Finance, the Women's Caucus in Parliament and representatives from the Council of State, the Ghana Journalists Association, (GJA) some members of the Media Commission and o ther stakeholders.

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He observed that sometimes government had tended to look upon the Commission with suspicion and held back on its promises where its expectations had not been met.

Mr Acquah-Hayford noted that over-reliance of the Commission on donors and non-governmental organisations to carry out its projects, though not the best for the independence of the Commission, it had to do so under the circumstances.

He said the Commission needed to build Conventions that would enrich its performance and promote its objectives.

The former Chairman called on the Commission to maintain and enrich its relationship with its partners and revisit its membership on the National Communications Authority (NCA) because it is unlikely that in future, it would be given the powers to control the Authority.

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He called on the Commission to set its Media Monitoring Project into operation as the country moves towards the 2004 elections with an appeal to the Friederich Ebert Foundation to support it.

Mr Acquah-Hayford called for an amendment to the Constitution to strengthen the influence of the Complaints Settlement Committee of the Commission to enforce compliance with its decisions.

He called on the National Institutional Renewal Programme (NIRP) to help improve on the physical environment within which the Commission operates with emphasis on office accommodation.

Speaking on the historical perspective of the Commission within the context of its Constitutional development, Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, Editor of the Daily Graphic called for the fusion of the NMC and the National Communication Authority (NCA) into one autonomous body for the NMC to exercise supervisory role over the NCA.

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He said that relationship is self evident by the fact that the NMC was a creation of the 1992 Constitution while the NCA was established by legislation.

Mr Ayeboafoh explained that when the NCA and NMC operate as on e body it would facilitate the expeditious resolution of disputes related to the airwaves and resolve the dichotomy of split responsibilities now being exercised by the two bodies.

Mr Ayeboafoh, a former Executive Secretary of the Commission said there is the need to remove ambiguities as to whether respondents could decide to appear before the Complaints Committee of the Commission or not.

He said it was incumbent on the Complaints Committee of the Commission to be just and dispense meaningful justice for respondents to co-operate with the Commission because of the difficulty of complainants withdrawing their complaints already before the committee.

Mr Ayeboafoh called for a review of section 19 of act 449 which gives the President the privilege to have access to the state owned media "for the purpose of broadcast, announcement or publicity of any matter which appears to the President to be in the public interest".

He explained that the privilege provided an unlimited leeway to the President in election periods, which he could use to gain advantage over his opponents.

In a speech read for him, Togbe Afede XIV, Paramount Chief of the Asogli Traditional Council called for close co-ordination between the NMC and the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to get Journalists to be very sensitive to the interests of national security and the rights and freedoms of other persons.

"I am sure that our democracy will be better off and strengthened if journalists in this country will uphold such rules of natural justice", he said.

Source: gna