Two authorities on the media have described the concerns raised by the police and the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) on radio phone-in programmes and use of non experts in the discussion of security issues as misplaced.
Prof Kwame Karikari, the Executive Director of the West Africa Media Foundation (WAMF) and Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, the acting Director of the School of Communications were both of the view that the police and GAF were too general in the concerns regarding phone in programmes and the lack of experts on issues pertaining to security on some programmes aired.
For Prof Karikari said it was the right of the security agencies to express concerns about anything they considered a threat to the peace and security of citizens particularly in an election period.
However, the most important and primary issue of concern, that the security personnel had to take action on was the arrest and prosecution of suspects in the disturbances of the year 2000 that led to the killing some people and the chief of Tamale as well as the disturbances that led to the killing of a Convention People’s PArty (CPP) member, Issah Mobila, he said.
He said media work and the publishing of angry words and sentiments were not carried out in a vacuum, but within political campaigning and activities characterised by acrimony.
“All these have been done under the banner of politics,” he pointed out.
He said it was the politicians who were inciting the some sections of the public to engage in violence, and that had to be the focus of the security agencies not a few angry voices on the airwaves.
He said most media institutions had the technology to delay or stop provocative language and they were doing that.
The security agencies could not therefore divert the attention of the public on the real issues at stake, he added.
Dr Gadzekpo for her part said it was understandable that the security agencies were irritated by the dearth of experts on discussion panels on security on radio, however, there were also a lot of issues discussed on radio that did not have experts commenting.
She said in some cases, people invited to comment on other issues made the wrong imput, misrepresented fats and exaggerated, “but that is the price we pay for democracy.”
“The security agencies are right to ask the media to be circumspect, but their concerns are usual as we are in a political season and we are all nervous,” Dr Gadzekpo said.
There are different standards in language and what they could call intemperate language might be temperate to others, their concerns do not carry an specific allegations and are just like all other complaints about the media.