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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Columnist: Baffoe, Paa Kwesi

Petition: Demonstration Of Gross Unprofessionalim And Impatiality By Joy Fm

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
NATIONAL MEDIA COMMISSION
ABDUL NASSER AVE
ACCRA- GHANA
September 3, 2015

Dear Sir,

Petition: Demonstration Of Gross Unprofessionalim And Impatiality By Joy Fm

I humbly write to your good office to draw your attention to some unfortunate happenings and gross unethical behavior by Joy FM, particularly the SUPER MORNING SHOW TEAM. My intention to petition your outfit is premised on the fact that I am a citizen of Ghana, a tax payer and a political activist who has been engaged in Ghana’s political discourse for many years. It is also born out of the fact that I have been a principal contributor to Joy Fm and the morning show over the years with sole aim of deepening multiparty democracy and governance process in Ghana.
This petition is a follow-up to a similar request I sent to the Chief Executive Officer of Multimedia Group of Companies, Mr Kwasi Twum on May 29, 2015. Response to my concerns has been shortcoming, as a result I have decided to turn to your outfit which is constitutionally enjoined to regulate media practice in Ghana. Among the concerns I raised with Mr Kwasi Twum is the misconduct and shenanigans on the part of the morning show team, particularly Kofi Ansah, Executive Producer; Kojo Yankson, Host and Vincent Nhyira Addo, co-host. Shockingly enough, he never even acknowledged the receipt of the petition I sent to him and I take that to mean either he is not interested in addressing the concerns I have raised or he endorses what the aforementioned officials have been doing.
I take solace in article 21 (1) (a) of the 1992 constitution, which provides that “All persons shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and other media.” It was for nothing that Francois JSC, as he then was, emphasized this point in his opinion in the leading case of New Patriotic Party v Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, when he said “ A denial of opportunity for the expression of opposing views, inherent in a democracy would amount to moves which culminate in the creation of monopolistic government which is only one step embodied from one party government” Justice Francois further stressed that “ Equal access means the same or near- identical terms and conditions for gaining entry into the state-owned media for the purpose of presenting their political, economic and social programmes to the electorate, and persuading them to vote for them in both parliamentary and presidential elections. This means that the same time space must be given to each political party, large or small, and if fees are payable, that they should be the same for all. The officers of the state owned media have no discretion in the matter. The Justice indicated that democracy and freedom of expression were to be jealously guarded; any hint of authoritarianism was to be suppressed.
To the best of my learning, which I believe many people ascribe to, the above quotation attributed to one of Ghana’s respected justices of the apex court of the land is not limited to the state media. It is a wide dragnet which traps both public and private media outlets, Joy Fm is no exception. One of the cardinal provisions of the 1992 constitution is that all persons shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression. The constitution guarantees that the press and every individual in Ghana has the right to say anything that they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. Further the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and to which Ghana is a signatory also states in Article 19 that: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impact information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Contrary to popular misconception too. We are not granted this right in exchange for any kind of responsibility. Therefore it will be erroneous to suggest that this right can be revoked if not used with responsibility. The only time this right may be revoked is when it is use by an individual to threaten the very life of another individual. Short of that, the right is sacred and inviolable.
The foundation of Ghana’s democracy is threatened by an unconstitutionally-sanctioned rented and shifty media houses, you may be aware that in time past Joy Fm as the first private radio station in Ghana was laden with extreme professionalism. For instance even though the then hosts of the MORNING SHOW Late Komla Dumor and producer Stan Dogbe have arguably political leanings yet they demonstrated very high professionalism and neutrality in the course of their work. Then, there was a certain consistency of quality of service that listeners can always associate the show with. The quality of the show was simply awesome, impeccable and unparalled. Again panelists who appear on the show were highly balanced and non-partisan. Also picking of phone calls from listeners was in the least not selective and choosy amongst party lines. Moreso, hardly anyone could pigeonhole the team or even get the slighted hint that the producer, host and auxiliary members was doing the bidding of a particular political party or group of people.
Regrettably and sadly enough, I wish to state emphatically and without any oxygen of doubt that today the success story of Joy FM is markedly different, in fact worse off than before. The show has subtly been turned into an offshoot of the main opposition, New Patriotic Party (NPP) gratuitously and incessantly doing the party’s bidding. The current state of affairs at Joy Fm is incongruously a media house that is motivated by malice and desirous of contriving a plot with the intent of giving the NPP and its candidate a mileage over the governing party NDC. This unfortunate phenomenon has eaten deep into the fabric of the executive producer, Kofi Ansah and his co-conspirators, host Kojo Yankson, co-host Vincent Nhyira Addo and organization as a whole. They have essentially been cocooned by shifty and self-exaggerated power drunk politicians who have manage to coax them to scheme ways to serve the interest of their pay- masters and at the peril of our fledgling democracy. They prosecute their ill-agenda through the following modus operandi and in different shapes and forms;
1. Operation of a secret line
2. Text Messages
3. Host and Executive Producer demeanor
4. Panelist Characteristics
I will demonstrate the above presently.
1. Operation of a secrete number
After the host has exhausted the topics under discussion for the day they usually open the phone lines for listeners to contribute. Here the number they announce for the generality of the public is 0302216541.This is the number everybody knows as the legitimate number to call during phone in-in. Then incongruously and secretly will alert NPP communicators to call through a special line. This special number is 0302233558 and it is for only NPP communicators to call. As though this is not enough they again sabotage and cut calls from NDC communicators and when we complain of these incessant call cut they come up with a wonky claim that the cuts are technical and one always wonders how a technical fault will emanate anytime NDC people call in to ventilate their opinions on the subject under discussion.
2. Text Messages
Text messages are often sent and read in the course of the show. One of the things they deliberately do to further the course of the opposition NPP is that, they only read messages from Eliasu of Tamale, Chiffmann of Atonsu, Samuel Brian Boabeng. All of these people are well-known NPP communicators whereas messages from Boutrous of Tema, Paapa Bissiue of Accra, Alhassan Bowsa of Tema and Kwame of McCarthy Hill are obliterated and never read because of their supposedly ideological leanings with the NDC. They do this so deliberately that you can conspicuously see that these guys are doing nothing other than doing the bidding of their pay masters.
3. Host and Executive Producer demeanor
Sometime in 2013 I called into the show when the phone line was activated. The one who picked the call was Kofi Ansah who was and still the Executive producer for the show. As I mentioned my name to him he made it very clear to me that he was not going to allow me to contribute because according to him I call too much. He cut the phone line on me. I was terribly bewildered by his conduct. I did not give up so I manage to call again, he picked again and echoed the same words to me. This time around I realized, it was very clear what he was up to thus his adamant posture.
You may also be aware about 3 weeks ago the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) went on a strike over improved conditions of service. I keenly followed Joy Fm discourse as regards the strike on daily basis. One could not believe the level of partiality exhibited by the host and co-host. On a particular day, after they have discussed the strike issue they activated the phone lines and quite sheepishly all the commentators who called into the show had cause to lament vehemently on how biased and poorly they have handled this strike issue since it inception. I had no problem whatsoever with them if they discuss same. My worry was that even though there were two parties in this whole matter these guys decided to heap derogatory remarks and variously cast serious aspersions on the image of government, blamed wholly government for the impasse, as well questioned its credibility. Particularly in this matter of the Doctors, It was very clear what their agenda was and whose course they were furthering. To prove this, a recent leaked tape suggested that the main opposition party, NPP had an interest in stocking the labour unions strike particularly the Ghana Medical Association.
4. Panelists Characteristics
Panelists or selection of panelists forms an integral part of managing a morning show. I find it extremely baffling that the selection of panelists on the show is so bias, unbalanced and skewed to serve the interest of the opposition NPP. If you monitored the morning show closely you will learn that almost every topic they discuss the panelists they normally call or allow into the studio are mostly NPP communicators or sympathizers particularly IMANI boss, Franklin Cudjoe and Financial consultant Sydney Casley Hayford. These shifty persons blatantly hide under the cloak of being experts when indeed they are nothing but NPP propagandist. Further this becomes even so obvious particularly when the topic under discussion is to do with government policy action or inaction.
I am by this petition invoking article 167 (b) of the 1992 constitution which provides that the National Media Commission shall “ take all appropriate measures to ensure the establishment and maintenance of the highest journalist standards in the mass media including the investigation, mediation, and settlement of complaints made against or by the press or other mass media.

Thank you for your cooperation

Yours Faithfully

……………………………….
Comrade Boutrous