‘Amend Act establishing NMC’

The National Media Commission (NMC) has called for an amendment to the Act establishing the body, to give it more powers to regulate the media landscape.

The NMC is of the view that the evolution and sophistication of the media was not envisioned when the Act was  passed in 1993.

As a result, there have been gaps which needs to be addressed, but that could only be done if the Commission was given more teeth to bite.

At a stakeholders’ forum, organised by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in Accra, on Thursday, the Chairman of the NMC, Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo, noted that the “gaps in the Act makes it impossible for the Commission to crack the whip.”

“The commission must be given that power and authority, and that power can only come from Parliament. Otherwise, the commission cannot take on itself any obligation,” he stated.

According to Mr Boadu-Ayenoafo, “in the thinking of the framers of the constitution, we needed to facilitate media pluralism rather than control”, but the media has evolved and a legislation would be needed to control it’s excesses.

He said the Commission has not been taken seriously by successive governments though it is a co-equal constitutional body like the Electoral Commission, which is treated specially.

Mr Boadu-Ayenoafo said “Sometimes even the payment of our allowances is delayed unduly. If for 6,7,8,9 months the allowance has not been paid how do you expect the person to commit him or herself to serving the public interest. The time has come for us to really take a look at that and see that none of the commission that we created is more important than any other.

The First Deputy Minority Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, said the Commission needed not only more powers but independence to function well.

Mr Ibrahim, MP, Banda, was  of the view that the regulation of frequencies should be the duty of the Commission rather than the National Communications Authority.

“The allocation of frequencies must be one of the functions of the National Media Commission, and the earlier the National Media Commission starts looking at these functions, the better.

The role of the media in a democracy, the Majority Leader and  Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said was to inform the citizenry and serve as a feedback loop.

Society’s challenges with the traditional media, he said, have not been overcome and now, social media has added on.

“Is the NMC equipped to play its role to the benefit of the people of this country? These and many other lacunas in the 1992 Constitution are the reasons why we have advocated time and again for its holistic review,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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