Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, Minister for Communication has said the liberalization of the our waves is a mixed blessing since it has helped to improve the lives of the people, and could also serve as a platform to undermine public good.
He said a draft Broadcasting Bill had therefore, been prepared to address challenges identified in the legal and regulatory framework of broadcasting in Ghana.
The minister said this in Accra yesterday, at the first stakeholders forum to consider the draft Broadcasting Bill after which it be presented to government for consideration.
The Bill is being reviewed by the stakeholders after it has been submitted to the Attorney General’s Department for advice which identified certain issues needed for clarification and consensus building by all the stakeholders.
The purpose of the Bill is to provide comprehensive legislation on broadcasting services regulated by the National Media Commission (NMC) and the National Communication Authority (NCA) in a manner consistent with the constitution.
It was also meant to provide a legal framework that will ensure that persons entrusted with electronic media, operate in a manner to safeguard public order, public morality, and national security and used for best public interest.
Dr Boamah said today’s liberalized environment called for a legal and regulatory framework for broadcasting and mass media in general, premised on the guarantee of the right to freedom of speech and expression , press freedom and the right to information.
He said as a result of constitutional dispensation, the broadcasting landscape, within the last two decades, underwent a radical transformation saying “as at the second quarter of 2015, the total number of television operators stood at 58 with over 390 authorizations granted for FM radio stations across the entire country.”
“The refreshing pluralism introduced into our mass media landscape has indeed, opened up access to new and diverse voices which continue to promote and deepen democracy and citizen’s participation in governance and development, “he said.
Dr. Boamah said the paradox, however, was that, legislation had lagged behind those new developments with the existing ones lacking the necessary legislative framework to regulate the industry.
He said the international best practice which entailed using programme content as a key for authorization services in the public interest was absent from the legislation.
Dr. Boamah said the Bill was intended to be fully alive to the world of rapidly changing communications technology and its imports for broadcasting.
Ambassador Kabral Blay Amihere, chairman of NMC, said the process of having such a bill started 10 years ago and was optimistic that before the next general election in 2016, it could be ready to serve a good purpose.
He said the Bill would define a relationship between the NMC and NCA in regulating the media landscape to serve the supreme interest of the nation.
By Lawrence Markwei
and Bridget Aazore Yuora