Information Minister John Tia Akologu was defiant on radio yesterday when he justified the ‘hijacking’ of state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) is taking issue with the NDC and the government for ‘hijacking’ the state broadcaster (Ghana Television) during the national delegates’ congress that elected President John Evans Atta Mills as the NDC’s flagbearer for the 2012 general elections, and failing to pay the required fees to the corporation.
Furthermore, the government was accused of using its officials to host GTV’s live coverage of the event when journalists working at the state broadcaster could have done so professionally.
Professional anomalies were noted in the conduct of the ruling party’s congress, with the state broadcaster letting go its hold on commentaries to Deputy Minister of Tourism, James Agyenim-Boateng and Stan Dogbe, in breach of the GBC standards.
On such Outside Broadcast programmes since this government took over, Nii Odartey Lamptey of the GTV business desk had been anchoring the live events, but this time around, the NDC insisted on having its own men do the commentaries and its request was obliged, much to the chagrin of observers and the professional at the state broadcaster.
Instead of settling the state broadcaster the huge amount owed them by the NDC, Mr. Tia rather arrogantly dismissed the opposition’s claim and said the coverage of the Sunyani delegates’ congress was part of the GBC’s ‘social responsibility’ to the nation.
“This was a national event affecting our democracy; affecting the nature of our politics, affecting our daily lives in this country. The GBC has social responsibility; a moral responsibility to let the people know what was happening,” he told Joy FM.
He said he saw nothing wrong with GBC broadcasting the event live as other media organisations did that without any payment.
“I know of some stations that covered this event free of charge. Free of charge just to boost their images. GBC could have done the same,” he insisted but could not mention those stations.
“The law says that be fair to all parties so if the GBC had done this thing for free for NDC, then they are obliged to do same for other parties,” he said, adding, “Deferred payment or delayed payments does not amount to free service so I don’t see where the NPP is coming from.”
“Is there anything wrong for a political party to owe an institution? If they are saying that the party didn’t pay for some service sometime ago therefore this coverage too is free, are they right?” he asked.
Mr. Tia said the government does not intend to run down GBC for any reason because GBC is a state-subvented organization and the government is fully responsible for paying workers and maintaining the equipment.
“We will ensure that GBC functions and operates very well so they should separate the government from political parties,” he noted, insisting that “whether it is six months or one year, I know that it will be paid”. Mr. Tia promised that once his attention has been drawn to the debt that the party owes GTV, he would ensure that it is paid.
NDC is yet to pay for the coverage GBC gave to the party in January 2010 for its Tamale congress, and last weekend’s Sunyani congress.
Source: William Yaw Owusu
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|