NMC To Release Guidelines For Media
At a one-day validation exercise to finalise the document, the NMC warned that media houses, especially the electronic ones, will lose their broadcasting licenses if they fail to adhere to the guidelines.
Portions of the 21-article guidelines cover the coverage of political programmes, manifestoes, candidates, campaign broadcast, political advertising and opinion polls, among others.
Under campaign broadcast, the commission warns of sanctions if the airwaves do not put the frequency to the benefit of the public.
“Journalists must be reminded that the airwaves are a public resource that must be used equitably and judiciously.”
Under political advertising, the guidelines suggest that contents of political advertising should conform to standards of good taste and decency.
Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, who facilitated the validation exercise, said the NMC holds strongly to the view that in opinion polls journalists or media institutions who intend to hold opinion polls must provide a name or the organisation providing the data, a description of the population under study, and the period and pace at which the polls are to be conducted to ensure the authenticity of the polls.
The provision that media personnel must avoid engaging in direct politics since it may jeopardise their credibility and integrity generated debate among journalists and the team of experts who drafted the guidelines at the event.
Whereas the former called for an amendment of the provision since the job demands constant association with politicians, Mr Edward Ameyibor, a former president of the Ghana Journalists Association, cautioned journalists to desist from going overboard to becoming bag carriers for politicians or arranging seats for them at political rallies in order to catch the attention of the politician.
The guidelines excused private media from strict political endorsement, but specified that “state-owned media should not endorse a political party or candidate since they are not mandated to do so.”
The guidelines states that “media practitioners must refrain from accepting offers of money and other such inducement as it may compromise their integrity,” but participating journalist asked for explanations of bribes and gift giving.
On reporting on an incumbent government, the guidelines state: “Presentation of government activities during elections should be weighed carefully to ensure that the incumbent government does not gain unfair access to the media.”
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