Mr Justice Anin Yeboah, a Supreme Court Judge, on Monday, urged the National Media Commission and other relevant authorities to enforce the regulations against media excesses and professional misconduct that encourage moral decadence and undermine national ethics.
He also appealed to Parliament to ensure the passage of the Broadcasting and the Right to Information Bills into laws.
Expressing concern about the high rate of advertisement of alcohol, backed by sexually explicit pictures and messages and other appalling media content, the eminent jurist stated: “In this respect, Article 164 of the Constitution, which imposes national security, national morality and public order restrictions on the media, begs for strict enforcement.
“It cannot be overstated that the early passage of the Broadcasting Bill into law will strengthen the content monitoring and regulation of the electronic media.”
Mr Justice Anin Yeboah said these when he swore in four new members of the National Media Commission (NMC), in Accra.
He said the dumping of telenovelas and the decline of standards on television screens deserved urgent attention, pointing out that: “The voice overs in our local languages increase the insidious appeal of such films”.
He warned that the damage those programmes inflicted on the moral centre of the youth, in particular, was incalculable.
The new members include Mr Yaw Boadu Ayeboafoh, who is a legal practitioner, a renowned journalist and an academician; and Mr Ken Korankye, a veteran journalist – both nominees of the President.
Mr Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, the Member of Parliament for Adenta is a representative of the Legislature, while Professor Audrey Gadzekpo of the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana, represents the National Council on Women and Development.
One Parliamentary representative was, however, not available to be inducted.
Mr Justice Anin Yeboah declared: “It is said that it is better to try and fail than to fail to try. We do recall that the attempt by the NMC to assume more content regulatory powers failed at the Supreme Court.
“This, however, does not and should not hinder the NMC to enforce diligently the regulatory powers with which it is already clothed in order to inject a semblance of sanity and decency in sections of the media.”
“It is indeed, sad to note that these regulations remain paper tigers, while professional excesses and ethical misconduct assume alarming proportions.”
He urged the new NMC members to bring to bear their expertise, knowledge and experience on the operations of the Commission.
The Commissioners should also ensure the enforcement of media regulatory laws and the various guidelines developed by the NMC; which were currently not being adhered to by media practitioners.
Nana Kwesi Gyan-Appenteng, the NMC Chairman, said the 1992 Constitution created the NMC and gave it a strong mandate to ensure the freedom and independence of the media and maintain the highest journalistic standards in the country.
“We need to emphasise that effective media regulation is an important prerequisite of the enjoyment of our free expression and its deployment as a tool of development, transparency and social justice,” he said.
“Effective, fair and equitable media regulation does not threaten our freedoms,” he said.
“On the contrary, as we have seen, the absence of well-constructed legal regime of regulation rather poses the threat of undermining the freedom and independence of the media.”
Nana Gyan-Appenteng appealed to the Government and the society as a whole to prioritise the passing of the Broadcasting Bill, the Freedom of Information Bill and other subsidiary laws and regulations that were needed to ensure that Ghanaians enjoyed their media freedom and used it for the development of the nation.
The swearing-in of these four new members of the NMC was necessitated by the change in Government.
The NMC is composed of 18 representatives of governmental organisations and identifiable groups, who were inducted into office in December 2015.
They include a representative from the Ghana National Association of Teachers, National Council of Women and Development, the Ghana Bar Association and the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association.
The rest are a representative from the Ghana Library Association, the representative of journalists training institutions, the Trades Union Congress, the Muslim Group and the Christian Group, the Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana and the Advertisers Association of Ghana.
The others are two representatives are from the Office of the President, three representatives of Parliament and two representatives from the Ghana Journalists Association.