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05 July 2016

Content Authorisation Law could have prevented Muntie threat – NMC

GeorgeSarpongThe National Media Commission (NMC) has underscored the need for effective media regulatory laws to prevent incidents of unguarded comments and threats on media platforms.

Executive Secretary of NMC, George Sarpong says had the Supreme Court not frozen its Content Authorisation Law aimed at sanitising the media landscape, the incident of a death threat issued on an Accra-based radio station, Muntie FM would not have happened.

“I can bet you that but for the issue around it a full implementation of that law would have fully prevented any discussion of this nature at this point in our history,” he said.

The head of the media regulatory body in Ghana disclosed this to Joynews when he was reacting to comments made by two radio panelists who threatened judges of the Supreme Court with death.

Alistair Tairo Nelson, 41, and Godwin Ako Gunn, 39, issued a death threat on the lives of Supreme Court judges over the raging controversy surrounding the electoral roll on June 29 on Muntie FM.

Joynews sources say the two turned themselves in at the office of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) a day after their comments received overwhelming condemnation.

This outburst has revived the debate about the safety of Ghanaian judges with many questioning the rule of law credentials of the country.

In the early hours of July 4, BNI officials picked the station master at Muntie FM to assist with investigations into the matter.

Speaking to Joynews, Mr Sarpong expressed his disappointment over the incident, saying, “We believe this nation has come very far for some of these things to continue.”

The NMC, he said envisaged some of these unguarded comments, noting, that is why it drafted the Content Authorisation Law to address these unfortunate incidents.

“When we passed LI 2224 it is to provide the media with certain basic standards,” he said, adding, it behooves on media practitioners to ensure the standards are adhered to.

On the way forward, the NMC boss said there is the need for the nation to put in place an effective regulatory framework to guard practitioners as well as panelists to ensure conformity with international best practices.

“We must put in place a standard that prohibits hate in the media,” he noted.

He explained before “this issue came up the Commission has already written to the station [Muntie FM] with regards to another issue.”

Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah, could not forgive the media regulator for the incident.

He berated the NMC for shirking its responsibilities as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution that enjoins it to take all steps appropriate to ensure professionalism in the media.

“I believe that the NMC, therefore, should be able to define what the parameters are and the steps that they are taking when it comes to professionalism,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has expressed its “utter shock and great disbelief” over the incident.

President of GJA, Affail Monney, explained what happened on the radio station is a demonstration of a clear breach of the Association’s constitution.

“What happened on Muntie FM was totally inconsistent with the principles which underpin journalism and has the tendency of raising tensions beyond the limit and undermining the security of this country,” he said.

He called on journalists to “assert their authority on programmes whether as the presenter, as the host or hostess or as the producer.”

Considering the period the nation finds itself, especially with barely four months to the November polls, Mr Monney entreated practitioners saying: “This is the time for you to assert your authority

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