EU flays media coverage of polls
The European Union (EU) Chief Observer of Ghana’s 2016 Elections, Tamas Mezerics has expressed worry about the State media’s bias in the coverage of the 2016 elections.
Making references to the report of the European Observer Mission (EOM), he mentioned the state owned media like Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and its numerous radio networks including Television (GTV), Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times respectively as typical examples.
Mr. Mezerics who is also a member of the European Parliament(MEP) was speaking at the University of Ghana, Centre for European Studies’ (CES) maiden lecture series on the theme, “Dealing with Basic Challenges of Elections in Ghana: Lessons from Europe”.
According to him, GTV which had promised to give equal access to all parties and candidates, ended up giving 35% of its prime time coverage to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the incumbent President, (John Dramani Mahama) while giving the New Patriotic Party(NPP), 9% and Progressive People’s Party(PPP) 8% with voter education taking 13% stressing that this ultimately left the political parties with no choice than to spend heavily on paid adverts from their preferred networks.
“GTV provided almost four hours of live coverage of the final rally of the NDC on December 5 but none, live or in the news to the final NPP rally the day before,” he disclosed.
He mentioned that other monitored TV channels (private), such as Adom gave 44% of their primetime coverage to the NDC, 28 % to NPP, TV3 gave 29 % to NDC and 12% to NPP while UTV gave 46% to NDC and 30% to NPP.
For Joy, Peace, Citi and Adom FM respectively, the trend was not any different as they equally paid more attention to President John Dramani Mahama and the NDC campaign messages than the other parties.
“It is important to recognize the extent to which President Mahama and the NDC used official functions for political campaigning, events which were covered by almost all TV and radio stations,” he remarked.
The Head of European Union in Ghana, Ambassador William Hanna, on his part averred that the EU is passionate about strengthening democracy in Ghana and the rest of Africa.
He reiterated that it was for such reasons that the EU is supporting a number of agencies including the Electoral Commission (EC), National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the National Media Authority (NMA) in their respective programmes.
He called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to set its house in order; especially cleaning of the voters register which he described as heavily bloated.
The Director of CES, Prof. Ranford Gyampo pointed out that though the 2016 elections were described as free and fair, there were a number of reforms that the EC needed to put in place for future elections.