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Business News of Saturday, 27 February 2016

Source: Kwame Gyan

We need an Advertising Standards Authority in Ghana – GIBA

The President of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), Mr. Akwasi Agyeman has called for an Advertising Standards Authority to be put in place to check the recent proliferation of sub-standard and deceptive advertising across the country.

Speaking to Kwame Gyan, Host of e.TV Ghana's State of the Nation program, he indicated that the Association is not anti-regulation and said they are open to a multi-stakeholder approach to sanitizing the broadcasting industry.

There has been a public cry over the issue. One such advertorial that has enraged viewers and users of social media is the one put out by an Accra based charismatic church and broadcast on a digital TV station which suggests that worshippers that buy what they call a “solution water” can have their prayers answered by writing their requests on pieces of paper and dipping them into the water. Another assertion from the advertorial is that users can cancel their debts and move monies into their bank accounts if they purchased the solution and followed the instructions.

Mr. Agyeman in expressing his disapproval of both the content of the advertorial and t been broadcast on TV said there was no way this sort of message must be allowed on television. “If we had an Advertising Standards Authority in this country, there was no way this sort of ad would have been allowed on TV. The absence of such a body has resulted in the continued airing of such materials on TV by media owners whose focus is more on making quick money than maintaining standards”, he said.

He called for a collaboration effort among key stakeholders including the National Communication Authority, National Media Commission, GIBA, Advertisers Association of Ghana in forming the Advertising Standards Authority to curb the situation.

Joining in the discussion, Mr. George Sarpong , the Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission reiterated the Commissions intention to put in place a content standards regime and said it's point of departure with GIBA on the recently introduced Media Content Standards Regulation ( LI 2224) is not too far off.

He believed all stakeholders can work together to make the media landscape better. Mr Sarpong bemoaned the current situation that has seen the increase of sub-standard content on the Ghanaian media landscape but was hopeful that a common ground can be met with key stakeholders top ameliorate the situation.

The Public Relations Manager of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) Mr. Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, who also spoke on the program said the Authority does not have the mandate to regulate advertising of products.

However, he joined the call for a body to regulate how advertising of products are done in the country to avoid deception. He lamented over the absence of an authority to check the advertising space especially as it plays a vital role in the overall health and development of the country.

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