Association to also monitor the activities of their members so that we would not have any -- permit me to use the word -- “joker” ascending a radio station, calling himself a journalist and picking somebody, be he a Member of Parliament, a politician, an assemblyman, a civil servant, or merely picking on a Ghanaian citizen and then use the power of the radio or the power of the pen or the power of the television camera -- [Hear! Hear!] -- to just put the person in a mess. Some people are known to have committed suicide because of such damage. Mr. Speaker, it is not a small matter we are talking about and journalists must begin to address this problem themselves.
Mr. Speaker, I keep saying all the time -- and permit me to use this example -- that some of us think that America is the freest society on earth. But Mr. Speaker, go to America and write one word -- not even a sentence, not even a phrase -- publish one word and damage somebody; you would regret the day you were born -- [Hear! Hear!] But here, in the name of licence, in the name of freedom, we have all manner of publications creating problems for everybody.
So Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I associate myself with the Statement made by my dear Friend.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu (NDC -- Tamale
South): Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement on the floor which focuses on journalism and in particular to congratulate the likes of Peggy Ama Donkor for demonstrating that disability is not necessarily an impediment in contributing to national development.
While I would want to commend the hon. Member who made the Statement, Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise some very interesting issues, first of all, the need for this House to consider a piece of legislation that will generally govern broadcasting. We do not have a broadcasting law as a country. And sometimes when you take radio stations in particular, when they are given the medium to practise, we do not monitor to check the limitations, for instance, to what extent should 93.5 extend its mandate and whether it should go beyond a particular area or not. This is happening largely because of the lack of legislation on broadcasting and I think that this House, encouraged by this Statement, must be considering a broadcasting legislation to govern and direct broadcasting in particular in this country.
Mr. Speaker, when you look at journalism in general -- and I entirely agree with hon. Capt. Nkrabeah Effah- Dartey (retd). I think that many of the journalists in this country have abandoned objectivity and responsibility. As much as I agree that the Criminal Libel Law was repealed, I think that undoubtedly citizens of Ghana still have opportunity to contest issues about reputation in the court, maybe, capitalizing on civil actions.
But Mr. Speaker, as much as we have not criminalized libel, I think that we have commercialized it. If you look at the judgments of the courts in recent times, most newspapers have had to fold up or their properties sold out because of their inability to pay associated cost.
As much I agree that reputation needs to be protected, because sometimes it takes several years, for instance, to build one's reputation, but it takes the carelessness or recklessness of an editor or a radio journalist, just within seconds, to destroy that reputation for good. And it will take time, sometimes, in order to regain or even repair one's hard-won reputation.
It is in that direction that I would want to call on Ghanaian journalists, in particular, to be circumspect in their reportage and sometimes to be guided, not to be hasty in their reportage.
As the hon. Member for Berekum said, sometimes when they get the report, it takes just a telephone call to contact -- If it is a public officer in the capacity of a Minister or a Member of Parliament, they can verify the source of the story in order to establish the credibility of the story. But sometimes, with some reluctance, they are either unwilling or not ready to consult and therefore go ahead with publications that end up not being creditworthy, unreliable and at the same time damaging the respect and reputation of a particular public official.
Mr. Speaker, if you look at even
Parliament, I am aware that most Members of Parliament suffer at the level of their constituencies because I think that the reportage of the proceedings of Parliament is not sufficient enough. My understanding is that Parliament is even considering setting up a radio station of its own, which may not be necessary. What we need, in fact, is a dedicated service.
But Mr. Speaker, the journalists and media people who come here to report -- take, for instance the state-owned Ghana Television, -- And I would want to relate this to the point I made; most constituents are critical of their Members of Parliament not because they do not hear them but because they are not reported on. If you take, for instance, television reportage,
I am sure and I would not hesitate in commending a television station like TV3.
In terms of television coverage of the proceedings of this House, I think they stand above all other television stations in this country -- [Interruption.] It is my opinion -- the hon. Member may contest it, but I think that TV3 stands above board. I am sure if Ghana Television was doing same most Members of Parliament will not suffer at the level of their constituencies that “We do not see you, we do not hear”, the popular thing which is said about even Members of Parliament who make meaningful contributions -- they are not heard.
Talking about TV3, I may have a personal judgment again. In terms of radio reporting, Joy FM also stands above board. They monitor the proceedings of Parliament and give report on them. In terms of the local languages, I think that Peace FM is doing creditably well in making sure that Parliament is heard outside these corridors. I am saying this because I am personally dissatisfied with the role of Ghana Television because they have nationwide coverage and there are many areas in this country where they could only be heard.
But Mr. Speaker, I say so recognizing the contribution of all other print media. For instance, in terms of the print, I think I can also give some value judgment in favour of The Chronicle. If you take The Chronicle -- of late the Daily Graphic is matching up to it. That is based on my observation of their performance.
Mr. Speaker, I think that while commending their efforts, it is important that our journalists are guided. Sometimes they are judgmental, Mr. Speaker, and that is my greatest worry with Ghanaian journalists. By their ethics, they are supposed to set the issues as it should be and not give judgments in many instances.