Thursday, May 22, 2014

Who should regulate the press in Cameroon?

Charly Ndi Chia--Archives
(NewsWatch Cameroon)--In Cameroon, most media owners consider the regulation by the National Communication Council (NCC) as censorship. Most of them liken the watchdog to a remote controlled government drone aimed at decimating freedom of the press.
Some media owners in Cameroon have argued that the press can only be regulated by pressmen and not a statutory regulatory organ whose members are appointed by the head of state.
On the sidelines of a conference of Presidents of Francophone media regulators from Central and West Africa in Yaounde from May 12 to 13 under the theme “the harmonization of complaint handling procedures and regulation of Central African Media Regulators”, NCC member Charly Ndi Chia stated his case against clamours for self-regulation by his colleagues.
“At one time all of us of the media, the so-called ‘big publishers’ we were in the trentches fighting to regulate the media in our own way ; fighting bad press, poor journalism,” Mr Ndi Chia said.
The NCC member who is also a co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the country’s leading English language newspaper, The Post, revealed that the publishers retreated when the Council was given sharper teeth to bite.
These ‘big publishers’ Mr Ndi Chia said further participated in their installation as NCC members.
“We were very happy about it but when we started working, they were the first to cry like babies. I don’t know why they want free license. They disgrace themselves by going on the air, by writing in the papers that the NCC is a government contraption.”
“If it is a contraption, why did you come taking our biographies/biodata, writing and congratulating us?”
 Comparing the journalism profession to a football match, the Editor-in-chief of The Post said “… do you think that you can go to play football and instead of playing football, you start playing rugby, kicking people and the referee allows you? There is always a referee in every match, if not it will be an all comers game in which somewhere along the line somebody will pick the ball with the hand and score and say I have scored since the ball has kissed the net.”
He described the demand for self-regulation by the journalists as strange and stupid.  The veteran journalist said those who are demanding the model today are the same individuals who have compromised the very ethics of the media.
“How many of them like Cesar’s wife can come out in public and say they are clean and that they can go to equity?”
 Many of them, according to Mr. Ndi Chia, are not even members of guilds where self-regulation can be upheld, he argued.
“They are bedroom critics, if they want auto regulation, let them come out. You call a meeting they don’t come. But if there is a meeting where there is going to be soya and where the minister will be handing over brown envelops, you find them coming and sitting on front views and saying that they are big journalists and they are publishers.”
On the appointment of members of the media watchdog by the president of the republic, he said: “I have always said that good journalists should be undertakers of journalism, why not come out. If you don’t want the NCC for example, what did you do when it was not there?”
You stayed in your office, you played hide and seek with the same regime, the same government, took money from them, the government comes out, puts an apple of discord.”
“But if you do your work and do it honestly, professionally and ethically, the NCC will have no business with you.” Mr. Ndi Chia concluded.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi in Yaounde

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