The National Media Commission (NMC) has ordered Justice Kweku Annan, a broadcast journalist, to desist from attacking Anas Aremeyaw Anas of Tiger Eye PI, and admonished him to ensure that his programmes meet the required standards.
It also asked the Herald Newspaper to retract an offending article against the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and apologise to the University in three editions of its publications, giving it the same prominence as the offending story.
A statement issued by the NMC, on Monday, October 22, 2018, said the decisions were made by its Complaints Settlement Committee after hearing the different cases of ethical breaches brought against them.
The statement, signed by the Chairman of the Commission, Nana Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, said both the journalist and the Newspaper were found to have acted unprofessionally.
The Committee, however, exonerated Hot Fm; and also commended the National Tribune for taking immediate steps to retract some stories the UCC deemed inaccurate.
Tiger Eye PI filed the complaint against Mr. Justice Kweku Annan, while the University of Cape Coast (UCC) filed the one against the Herald Newspaper.
The following a full report of the NMC statement:
“The National Media Commission has determined the cases brought by Tiger Eye PI against Mr. Justice Kweku Annan and Hot FM and the University of Cape Coast against the National Tribute and the Herald Newspapers.
The Complaints Settlement Committee of the Commission determined the following on the aforementioned complaints:
1. Tiger Eye PI VRS Justice Kweku Annan & Hot FM
Tiger Eye PI in the complaint against Mr. Justice Kweku Annan and Hot FM stated that the activities of Mr. Annan on his programme “Ghana Must Know” aired on Hot FM falls short of acceptable journalism practice and standards.
According to Tiger Eye PI comments, Mr. Annan consistently made false and derogatory comments on the programme over the period immediately following the airing of a documentary Tiger Eye PI had produced on corruption in Ghana football.
The comments were solely focused on Tiger Eye PI, Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr. purposely to degenerate and tarnish the image of the two.
In June 2018, Tiger Eye PI published the findings from a 2-year sting operation into corruption in Ghana Football, dubbed “Number 12”. Before and after the said publication by Tiger Eye PI, Mr. Justice Kweku Annan, host of the show on Hot FM, Ghana Must Know, made comments on his show that sought to destroy the credibility of Tiger Eye PI, Mr. Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Kweku Baako.
The Tiger Eye PI carried out its own undercover investigation into Mr. Annan’s continuous attack on them (Tiger Eye PI, Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Kweku Baako), during which Mr. Annan revealed that he was involved in a project purposely to unmask Mr. Anas Aremeyaw Anas and to destroy his credibility and that of Kweku Baako.
To that effect, he requested an amount of GHC35, 000 as an initial deposit to conduct his undercover investigation into Anas’ activities. Tiger Eye PI paid Mr. Annan GHC5, 000.
Responding through their lawyer, Sean Kojo Poku Esq, the respondents indicated that Mr. Annan was preparing a documentary on the methods used by Anas and the Tiger Eye PI in their investigation, which fell below the standards of journalism.
They further stated that the documentary came with a huge cost, and invited the “unknown persons” (Tiger Eye PI) who approached him (Mr. Annan) for assistance in his quest to unmask Anas if they were interested.
He, therefore, maintained that the GHC5, 000 paid to Tiger Eye PI was not a bribe or inducement but merely a contribution to the production of the documentary.
Mr. Annan during the sittings of the Committee, as well as through his lawyers, insisted that Mr. Anas Aremeyaw Anas be made to remove the mask he wears during hearings to enable his identity to be verified.
However, the Committee was of the view that other established organisations such as the Courts had previously granted Anas the dispensation to appear before them wearing a mask.
Importantly also the Committee pointed out that since its proceedings did not necessarily require that complainants or respondents appear before it in person (they could choose to be represented by lawyers), it was immaterial whether or not Anas, or indeed Justice Annan were identified during the hearings.
There was thus no need to identify the person behind the mask purporting to be Anas before the merits of the case could be heard and decided.
At the last sitting of the Committee, Mr. Annan asked to be excused from proceedings of the Committee after his request to have Anas unmasked was overruled by the Committee.
The Committee determined that there was no evidence to suggest that the station, Hot FM, of which Mr. Annan is a presenter, was complicit in the said activities of Mr. Kweku Annan.
The Committee determined further in taking money with the purpose of tarnishing Anas’ reputation, Mr. Annan abused his professional privileges as a journalist, and noted that his activities and behavior fall short of the ethical standards.
The Committee ordered Mr. Kweku Annan to desist from further attacks on Anas, and admonished him to ensure that his programmes meet the required standards.
2. The University of Cape Coast VRS the National Tribute Newspaper.
The University of Cape Coast lodged a complaint against the National Tribute Newspaper that had published a series of articles between May and June 2018, in which the newspaper had made a number of allegations against the University, its Vice Chancellor and other officials of the University.
The said publications were published and titled as follows:
Thursday May 31, 2018: Rots at UCC Uncovered
Thursday June 12, 2018: Mysterious Attacks at UCC
Thursday June 21, 2018: UCC VC, Others Hot
The allegations levelled against the University are as follows:
* The first allegation captioned, “Rots at UCC Uncovered”.
* The second publication alleged that an optometry student had been murdered.
* The third publication claimed that UCC had made dubious deals and that the BNI was conducting investigations into the University.
The University stated in the complaint that the allegations were false, actuated by malice and sought to unfairly bring the University and her principal officers into disrepute. The Editor at the first meeting of the Complaints Settlement Committee agreed to dialogue with the representatives of the University on the publications and to publish their version (possibly a rejoinder) from the University.
The National Tribute Newspaper in its Thursday, August 30, 2018 edition published a retraction with a teaser on its front page and carried in full on page 4 of the publication apologizing to the University in respect of the offending publications as follows:
“This has become necessary because the management and editors of the paper have realized that some of the issues raised in the said publications against the aforementioned persons were not entirely accurate and factual.
Having gotten these facts and with the settlement process initiated by the National Media Commission, we honourably retract the stories, their content and render sincere apology to the school and its management.
Management of the paper wish to assure Management of the University that the paper has no ill-feeling towards the school or any person in management position of the school and hope this retraction and apology will settle the matter and establish a healthy friendship between the school and the National Tribute.”
The NMC commends the National Tribute Newspaper for its cooperation in complying with the constitutional provision mandating rejoinders and for accepting to retract and apologise to the Vice Chancellor and other members of Management of the University who were mentioned in the publication.
3. The University of Cape Coast VRS the Herald Newspaper
The University of Cape Coast (UCC) filed a complaint with the Commission against the Herald Newspaper over its publication carried in the 11 June, 2018 edition of the paper, titled UCC Vice Chancellor Accused of Nepotism, …Offers Friend Top University Job.
In the said publication, the Herald newspaper claimed that the VC, Prof. Ghartey Ampiah, had used his position to influence the interview and selection process in the appointment of Mr. Philip Ntim Owusu as the University’s Director of Physical Development and Estate Management.
The publication further alleged that the Director was not qualified for the position, and his interview process was fraught with irregularities.
The Herald’s Newspaper publication also stated that the contractors working with the University were having a frosty relationship with the new Director because he had accused them of taking bribes to secure their contracts, which had led to delays in payment.
The University stated that the publication was a fabrication that sought to bring the University into disrepute.
The Herald Newspaper, responding through their lawyers, Nii Odoi Annan & Co, indicated that they found the complaint by the UCC to be frivolous, superfluous, tiresome and devoid of any merit.
They further indicated that they stood by their publication as they had followed all necessary tenets of journalism in producing the said article.
They challenged the University to produce records concerning all the allegations made in the story before they (Herald Newspaper) will come out to offer their final reply.
Consequently, the Herald Newspaper and its representatives refused to attend the hearing of the Complaints Settlement Committee.
Nonetheless, the Committee proceeded to adjudicate the case based on Article (3) of L.I 1587, which states that:
“The Settlement Committee shall not proceed with an investigation under this regulation in the absence of the person against whom the complaint has been made unless it is satisfied that notice served for that purpose has been received by him.”
The Complaints Settlement Committee proceeded with the evidence before it and determined as follows:
1. The paper could not defend its publication by refusing to appear before the Complaints Settlement Committee of the Commission.
2. The Herald Newspaper should retract and apologise to the University in three editions of its publications giving it the same prominence as the offending article.
3. The paper should not repeat the offending articles.”