Media urged to promote Assembly polls

Kabral Blay AmihereThe Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr. Kabral Blay-Amihere, has urged media institutions to give the upcoming district assembly elections the needed publicity in order to whip up public patronage.

Generally, he said public interest in the forthcoming elections had been low, partly due to the poor media coverage given to the events preceding the polls.

Mr. Blay-Amihere was speaking at the launch of a project aimed at monitoring media coverage of the district level elections in Accra yesterday.

The purpose of the monitoring exercise, which is sponsored by the European Union, is to assess scientifically, how the media would cover the up-coming elections in terms of depth, relevance and ethical behaviour.

The NMC, has set up a state-of-the-art monitoring system with technical experts to carry out the project.

Mr. Blay-Amihere said it was imperative for the media to show interest in the elections to encourage the public to participate in the decision making process in their communities.

He, therefore, advised media practitioners to be mindful of the ethical principles of the profession, while reporting on the elections.

The Executive Secretary of NMC, Mr. George Sarpong, expressed concern about the low turn-out at local government elections despite the enormous benefits of local government in the delivery of services in the communities.

“Experts partly blame this situation on the media’s lack of interest in the local level elections. As the constitutional body set up to ensure free, responsible and pluralistic media, NMC has a key responsibility to offer the necessary policy guidance on media and decentralisation,” he said.

Mr. Sarpong said the monitoring formed part of the overall strategy of the commission to improve citizen’s access to information, improve media quality and professional standards, and reshape the nation’s discourse towards a development dialogue.

He said the NMC decided to monitor the elections because experts have described it as the most complicated elections in the country.

“Unlike presidential and parliamentary elections which involve only 275 constituencies, district level elections involve more than 60,000 electoral areas and 300,000 units where elections have to be conducted.

“This means the Electoral Commission has to print more than 360,000 unique ballot papers involving different candidates for each electoral area or unit,” he said.

A technical advisor to the NMC, Koshin Aden, told The Ghanaian Times that the special monitoring exercise would not only involve the space and time given to the elections but also analysis of the agenda of the media.

He said the monitoring team would also check the presence or absence of hate speech during the coverage, as well as the coverage of gender related issues.

By Yaw Kyei    

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