The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is questioning the validity of the findings in the European Union’s Election Observation Mission (EOM) final report on Ghana’s 2020 election which, among other things, suggested that a number of media houses in the country failed to be balanced in their coverage ahead of the polls.
Executive Director for the Foundation, Sulemana Braimah. on Eyewitness News,said the media cannot be blamed and accused of bias when political parties in opposition are more often than not unable to outdo incumbent governments during campaigning in electioneering periods.
He argued that the phenomenon is typical of every election season and cannot be interpreted to mean that media houses deliberately favour parties in power.
“The analysis suggested that there was some imbalance in how media covered the political parties especially favouring the ruling government. It’s been the phenomena since the 1992 elections and every election. That’s the pattern. It is a very complex thing because every party in government will organize a number of programs, sod-cuttings, commissioning of projects in election years. In such events, there are election messages so if you look at it, you will be tempted to code it as coverage in favour of the ruling party.”
“The other complex thing is that media organizations cannot make news for the political parties. They may want to be fair to all the political parties in the election year but if the opposition parties are unable to match up the number of activities that the ruling party organizes, this is the natural thing we will see, and it will stay forever”, he further explained.
The EU observer mission stated in its report for instance that, the state broadcaster, GTV, favoured the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) in its election reportage.
It said 26.2 percent of airtime on election-related news programmes focused on activities of the NPP while 15.8 percent was allocated to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
On coverage given to the presidential candidates of the two parties, the report noted that the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo, who was the incumbent President, was given a lot more attention, compared to his main challenger, John Mahama, while indicating that the coverage was generally neutral.