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Inciteful broadcast: Commission has power “to take all appropriate measures” against Onua FM,TV – NMC

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Source: GraphicOnline

 

 

The National Media Commission (NMC) has extended the final warning to Onua FM and Captain Smart to Friday, November 24, 2023 after which the commission says it may act without any further reference to Media General, owners of Onua FM and television station.

The extension of the deadline follows a response Onua FM/TV sent to the NMC in a letter dated November 20, 2023, in respect of the final warning the NMC gave the media house last week over the said inciteful broadcast by one of the presenters of the media house, Captain Smart.

The NMC last week issued a final warning to Onua Radio/TV and Captain Smart over an inciteful broadcast.

The NMC had stated that Onua TV/FM through its presenter Captain Smart had carried an inciteful broadcast in which Captain Smart directly insulted the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and other Commanders of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and described them as “beasts.”

Captain Smart had claimed that the military officers embezzle monies meant for soldiers on peace keeping operations but offered no evidence to back his claims, the NMC stated.

“This was as dangerous as it was unprofessional,” the commission added.

The commission in its letter made reference to a similar incident in 2022 where in a letter dated December 8, 2022, it drew the attention of Onua TV/FM to the use of the station to promote violence against the state and the management’s lack of capacity to address same.

The NMC said it was of concern that the behaviour persists after attention was drawn to it and the management was not instituting any measures for any internal gatekeeping to help prevent re-occurence.

NMC statement issued Tuesday night (November 21, 2023)

In a press statement signed and issued by the Executive Secretary of the NMC on Tuesday night (Nov 21), the NMC indicated that the management of the media house had sought to challenge the final warning issued last week (November 14).

“We consider your letter a red-herring strategy to avoid taking responsibility for your actions. Yet, we are prepared to extend our deadline to Friday, November 24, 2023 after which we may act without any further reference to you,” the NMC stated in the latest press statement on the issue.

Attached below is a copy of the full statement 

RE: RE: FINAL CAUTION AGAINST INCITEFUL BROADCAST

Your letter of November 20, 2023 does not address the regulatory directives contained in ours of November 14, 2023. Instead, you raise three extraneous issues which we address below:

  1.    Ownership of station: You argue in your letter that “the Commission’s letter addressed to the Board Chairman of Media General is not properly directed as Onua TV is a registered entity under MG Television Ltd, and as such is a separate legal entity with its independent Board of Directors.” Our checks at NCA show that upon your request, NCA by a letter dated November 17, 2023, approved the transfer of the authorisation for Onua FM and Onua Tv to Media General. So on record, Media General is the holder of the frequency authorisation. Your claim that a “separate legal entity” is in control outside the approved entity has major legal implications that we are duty bound to bring to the attention of NCA in addition to the subject matter of our original correspondence. Since you are familiar with the Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775) you must be aware of the consequences.
  2. Mandate of NMC: Article 167(b) of the Constitution (1992) empowers NMC “to take all appropriate measures to ensure the establishment and maintenance of the highest journalistic standards in the mass media, including the investigation, mediation and settlement of complaints made against or by the press or other mass media.” (Emphasis added).
    Your lawyers should have no difficulty in explaining this to you, i.e, that the Commission has power “to take all appropriate measures” and that the mediation and settlement constitute an inexhaustive list of tools the Commission may use to achieve its object. Ordinarily, we would not say more beyond this.
    However, since this is the second time you have willfully submitted yourselves to a misreading of the law, we feel obliged to point out to you that the law could not have intended that when we are faced with a broadcaster inciting mutiny within the armed forces as you are doing, we should be constrained by complaints settlement procedures.  You know the story of Nero fiddling while ancient Rome burned. The National Media Commission will not do that today when in Niger, Chad, Guinea, Gabon, Burkina, Sudan and twice in Mali there have been military insurrections.
  3. Transmittal of correspondence: We are unable to treat this as priority until the substantive directives contained in our letter of November 14, 2023 have been carried out.

We consider your letter a red-herring strategy to avoid taking responsibility for your actions. Yet, we are prepared to extend our deadline to Friday, November 24, 2023 after which we may act without any further reference to you.

Yours faithfully

George Sarpong
Executive Secretary

Source: www.graphic.com.gh