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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Columnist: Tsikata, P. Y.

Forces Of The Old Order Must Be defeated Now!

We walked into the TV room of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, an organization with the ellipsis or acronym GBC, to inquire about the procedures in having GBC to cover a programme of civic interest. The response from the schedule officer in-charge was swift and straight to the point.

Then I inquired about the possibility of having an email address of GBC to which I and my team could send all correspondence: press statement, invitation, articles and newsworthy write-ups, and the answer made me to probe further afield about the acuity of the officer with regards to digital communication. The answer of the officer was: ‘you must bring any newsworthy information meant for GBC in person or by fax, to make it official.’

I wondered if information sent by email is never official or can never be regarded as official, so I enquired to know. The officer insisted it must be official by fax or by bringing it in person. Being a Ghanaian and knowing too well how the system operates, I knew too well that any further questions may incur the displeasure of the officer, so I collected the fax number and the telephone numbers and we left.

However, in the evening of the same day; Wednesday the 20th of January, 2008, on the evening news was an item that intrigued me to consider turning out this commentary.

The Canadian High Commissioner paid a working visit to the GBC and in his interaction with the Director-General of GBC, two important issues came up: the digitalization of the media and the ‘media laws of the yesteryears’ which are still operational in an age of digitalization.

With digitalization, there is no doubt that the mere mention of words like the internet, digital and email sends the old-fashioned professionals into a frenzy of a kind, and you simply dare not urge them to update their know-how on simple things like the email and other forms of digital communication. Is it now time for the state-owned media, especially the GBC, to make it a policy to educate all its employees on the use of the email, interactive communication and other forms of digital communication, so that we do not have a situation whereby some of its workers will regard anything coming through the email as not formal.

For the media laws, I completely agree with the Director-General of the GBC that they are ‘media laws of the yesteryears’ in Ghana which are completely incongruous with the digital age.

Let’s consider issues of impersonation in digital space, the use of pseudonyms in digital space, the borderless nature of virtual space, and the differentials in national laws in dealing with internet crimes and so on. There is no gainsaying that there is the urgent need for laws that would firmly deal with Ghana’s virtual space but without fettering the media.

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