We recall 10 years ago, that, a communication specialist, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, at an anniversary celebration of the National Media Commission (NMC) called for a comprehensive broadcasting law to articulate the fundamental principles and objectives of broadcasting in Ghana.
That, she observed, would set out clearly the legal framework to regulate the industry.
The call was as relevant at the time as it is today although many years down the line, the law has not been passed.
Since then, many others have pushed for the passage of the law. We recall the former Chairman of the NMC, Kabral Blay -Amihere lamented during the run up to the 2016 general elections that lack of broadcasting law was hampering efforts by the commission to regulate the activities of radio stations, especially in matters of hate speech.
We are aware broadcasting law has been on the table for a long time and we are informed that the Minister of Information is consulting with stakeholders for inputs before it can be taken to cabinet for approval.
Be that as it may, the delay in the passage of the law appears to be doing more harm than good to the country.
Undoubtedly, the return to constitutional rule has liberalised the media landscape, perhaps never experienced before in our national life.
It is widely acknowledged that some media organisations have their own agenda and editorial policy that they chose to pursue. That is within their own right.
But it is the Ghanaian Times’ considered view that operators of mass media of communication must align their interest or agenda with the national interest in mind.
The mass media is very pervasive and influential in shaping the attitudes and behaviour of their audience.
It is in light of this, that, we add our voice to the need for a broadcasting law to promote national development.
Especially, we need a broadcasting law in emergency situations like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2(SARS-CoV-2) and the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) that is taking a heavy toll on the world population.
Indeed, in Ghana we are battling to contain the disease as government has taken a decisive step including the passage of the Imposition of Restriction Law to restrict the movement of the population in high risk areas of Greater Accra Region, including Kasoa in the Central Region and the Kumasi areas.
We have observed that a section of the public does not appreciate the magnitude of the pandemic at hand, and perhaps out of ignorance are flouting the restriction and exposing themselves to the danger of spreading the disease.
We are of the view that the media is not doing enough by devoting airtime on television and radio for public education about the pandemic and what we should be doing in our daily lives to guard against further spread of the disease.
Almost every household owns a television set and radio. This is the time people are indoors observing the imposition of the restriction law.
Perhaps, this is the right time that a broadcasting law is needed to compel media organisations to devote much time in the national interest, through educative television and radio programming to influence the audience to stick to the Ghana Health Services protocols on the prevention of the virus.
We believe there is still a lot of ignorance among the public about the seriousness of the pandemic.
This is the time to enlighten the public and empower them to take their destiny into their own hands.
The media must lead in this crusade; television and radio stations must devote more time in this national crusade against the pandemic by intensifying public education and information, before even a broadcasting law would appeal to their consciences to do so.