The National Media Commission (NMC) has said it is not clothed with the law to ban any group of professionals or individuals from using the media in reaching out to the public.
However, such professionals or individuals must follow the guidelines developed by the NMC on various subject areas, including religious broadcast.
The Chairman of the NMC, Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said self-regulation and ethical values should guide media owners in the production of media content.
Expatiating on the appearance of mallams and money doublers on the electronic media, he said the NMC could only engage media owners and not the mallams and money doublers.
He explained that in Ghana’s democratic dispensation and Constitution, the word ‘ban’ was not in the language of the media.
Information Minister’s admonition
Recently, the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, petitioned two state institutions, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the NMC, on the activities of money doublers on television and urged the institutions to take appropriate action.
The minister, in a tweet, said: “I have written to the BoG and the NMC to take note of the activities of money doublers on TV and act appropriately to tackle it.”
“The Ghana cedi, which is produced under the authority of the BoG, cannot and ought not to be duplicated,” he noted, adding: “The BoG and the NMC have a responsibility to take a view on such acts on our television and act accordingly.”
Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh, in the interview with the Daily Graphic, said Article 173 of the 1992 Constitution provided that the NMC shall not exercise any control or direction over the professional functions of a person engaged in the production of newspapers or other means of communication.
In that context, he argued, until Parliament passed a specific law for the NMC to enforce, the commission would continue to engage media owners to abide by the various guidelines set by it to ensure decency on the media landscape.
He further indicated that any attempt to stop such acts would not be successful, as the courts could overturn any directive or action geared towards that.
Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh said the NMC could only appeal to members of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) to deny access to mallams, fetish priests and money doublers, so that they did not pollute the airwaves.
According to him, in such a situation, the commission would also include some religious broadcasts, since some of the pastors or religious leaders indulged in worse acts than the money doublers.
Unfortunately, he said, when the NMC attempted to transform its guidelines into regulations, GIBA took the commission to court.
He said the Supreme Court ruled in favour of GIBA, thereby halting the NMC’s efforts to instill discipline on electronic media platforms.
He appealed to Ghanaians to take keen interest in the Broadcasting Bill when it was laid before Parliament.
He said it was only when the NMC was empowered by law to act on such matters as media content that it would be able to deal with abuses or ensure decency.
“So far, no law exists that empowers the NMC to enforce or regulate media content,” he stressed.
“The commission doesn’t have any legal backing to ban or regulate media content. What we do is mediate and call on the guilty party to render an apology,” he said.
Mr Boadu-Ayeboafoh said the NMC could not take the law into its hands without any law backing it.