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General News of Friday, 3 May 2002

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New laws on television films

The Ministry of Information has put before Parliament a new bill known as the Cinematograph (Films and Video Tapes) Exhibition Board of Control Bill, 2000.
The bill which is expected to replace the Cinematograph Act, 1961 makes sweeping changes in the film industry notable among which is a new 16-member National Cinematograph Exhibitions Board of Control which will preview and classify all feature films meant for screening by TV stations.
The composition of the Board will consist of representatives of the Ghana National Commission on Children, Christian Council of Ghana, National Council for Women and Development, Copyright Administration, Ghana Moslem Representative Council, the National Commission on Culture and 10 others to be appointed by the Government.
But even before Parliament passes this bill into an Act the Ministry of Information and the National Media Commission has sent letters to all local television stations in the country to undertake a ‘clean-up’ of their films before airing them. They are expected to rid the films they intend to show of all gory scenes and other scenes of sex, violence and strong language.
These came up when Graphic Showbiz spoke to Mr James K. Awuah, Head of the Cinema Section of the Information Services Department and a member of the current Censorship Board at his office in Accra last week. He said the letters from the Ministry of Information and the National Media Commission were in response to incessant public outcry against some of the indecent scenes that are aired by TV stations to the embarrassment of parents and to the detriment of children.
Mr Awuah said the present Act does not enjoin TV stations to send films they intend screening for censorship since at the time that it was passed there were no television stations in the country and when GTV emerged later, the station reached an agreement with then government to do its own internal censorship. The new proposed bill, a copy of which was shown to Graphic Showbiz allows the Minister to make rules setting out the principles, which will guide the Board in the exercise of its functions.
When Graphic Showbiz went round the three TV stations in Accra it learnt that they were all complying with the News Directives from the Ministry of Information and the Media Commission. At GTV Mr Wallace Bampoe-Addo, Acting Director for TV said sometimes the scarcity of good African films led to situations when not very good films were telecast but now, he said, they have intensified their censorship to rid African films of undesirable scenes.
Mr Emmanuel Dotse, Director of Marketing for Metro TV, who spoke for his company said the station has been guided by the Ministry’s directives and public reactions with regard to potentially indecent films.