The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation has refuted findings of a research commissioned by Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) accusing them of biased reporting of political activities ahead of the December 7 polls.
The study which was conducted from June to August to monitor any form of abuse of incumbency found that five out of the six state media outlets did not give fair reporting to all parties.
The five are the Ghana Television (GTV), Mirror, Ghanaian Times, Daily Graphic and Uniiq FM.
The Coalition is made up of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GIA), Citizens Movement Against Corruption, Center For Democratic Development (CDD) and Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII).
Although a similar research has been done in the past, a member of the coalition Edem Senanu explained that this year’s focused on how to achieve the constitutional mandate to provide fair opportunity through equal access by state-owned media houses.
He said one of the important issue discussed is the legal framework to operationalize Article 65.11-12 and Article 163 of the Constitution.
Article 65.11-2 says the state shall provide fair opportunities to present their programs to the public by ensuring equal access to state-owned media.
Article 162.3 states
“There shall be no impediments to the establishment of private press or media; and in particular, there shall be no law requiring any person to obtain a license as a prerequisite to the establishment or operation of a newspaper, journal or other media for mass communication or information.”
“What exactly we were expecting was to go into collaboration and partnership to do advocacy that the legal framework that defines equal access means and how state media can ensure that there is a level political playing field in terms of equal access to space and time is achieved,” he said.
He said the study tested to see if equal stories were done by the different state medium on the parties the frequency of appearance of party representatives reports on the platforms the same as the frequency of mention of the parties activities. If it is a newspaper what was the space allotted – whether there was equity in space allotment as well as the positioning.
“In general, we found there was a discrepancy in the treatment given to the parties. The governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) came up tops, with Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and Convention’s People’s Party (CPP) in the middle and the rest are virtually non-existent,” he disclosed.
Mr Senanu discounted the idea that with media proliferation, a political party might want to access another medium than the state-owned media in spreading their message.
He said that would be a disadvantage to minority parties who cannot afford to be on commercial-based mediums adding they might have information that is for the public good.
“The public service component of the state media is still very relevant if so as the proliferation happens. Again, one cannot tell the level of penetration, for instance, an article in the Daily Graphic might get more readership for instance than in another private newspaper,” he said.
He said the discussants settled on setting up a fund to support state-owned media houses so that they don’t lose out while serving the citizenry, especially during election years.
However, the Deputy Director of News at the state broadcaster, Jonny Aryeetey, responded that the political parties and individuals know what to do to assist the station.
“If we give you the airtime, the opportunity and everything else to take advantage of, we can’t organize the event for you,” he said adding a particular party has consistently failed to take advantage of their medium and they can’t force the party in any form.