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17 June 2016

GBC Outlines Guidelines For Coverage Of November Polls

gbcThe Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) has outlined the Corporation’s guidelines for the coverage of political parties’ programmes and presidential candidates for the November polls.

The guidelines are to provide fair opportunity to all political parties to present their programmes to the public, ensuring equal access to their facilities and the same amount of time and space to all presidential candidates.

The guidelines would afford the public the opportunity to make informed decisions about the political parties and candidates as well as strengthen democratic culture.

Mr Ebenezer Ampaabeng, the Chairman of Political Broadcast Complaints and Monitoring Committee of GBC, said guidelines include the honest, accurate and fair coverage of all political activities, starting from July 2016.

He said GBC would distinguish between official government business and party political activities adding that the Corporation shall not endorse political parties or candidates.

“To avoid public perception of partiality, staff of GBC shall not hold executive or prominent positions in political parties or politically aligned civil society organisations without authorisation from the Board of Directors,” he said.

He said GBC would make available to all registered political parties and candidates advertising space and airtime for programmes without favour and that the rates, terms and conditions for advertising would be the same for all the parties.

Mr Ampaabeng said political parties and presidential candidates would be required to provide the names of their officially-designated spokespersons and party functionaries to GBC.

“GBC will only publish news releases which are duly signed by authorised personnel of the political parties or contain the name and contact details of people from whom further information could be sought about the release,” he said.

Mr Ampaabeng said GBC would ensure that its officials did not pass information obtained in their official capacity in respect of any political party or candidate to a third person to the detriment of the political party or presidential candidate.

He said: “GBC will not rely on social media as sources of information because it has no gatekeepers. If for any reason a story must be sourced from social media, the reporter who picks the story must declare its source and subject it to the editorial guidelines of the Corporation”.

The Guideline Policy states that GBC will monitor the presenters and hosts on its programmes for any leanings, biases, and prejudices towards the position of political parties or candidates, and that such biases can be seen through off-the-cut comments in their line of questioning and their off-air activities and comments.

Mrs Francisca Ashietey-Odunton, the Acting Director General of GBC, said the Corporation, as part of its mandate, would educate the public on political issues as well as maintain editorial control over all materials to be broadcasted.

Representatives of all registered political parties who were present commended GBC for the guidelines adding that the gesture would provide a fair ground to sell their message to the electorates.

Present at the programme were Professor Emmanuel Asante, the Chairman of the National Peace Council, Mr Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, the Chairman of the National Media Commission, the Board members of GBC and civil society organisations.

A ballot would be cast to decide the order in which political parties or candidates would appear in each debate and other discussions.

However, representatives of the New Patriotic Party and the People’s National Convention disagree with the idea because it is not all the parties who would be certified by the Electoral Commission to participate in the November polls.

Management of GBC has, therefore, postponed the date of the ballot but said it would be held before the programme starts in July.

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