Monitoring Of Language Use On Radio Stations; First Week Report From Media Foundation For West Africa
Overall, a total of 22 indecent expressions were recorded. These expressions ranged from: • Provocative remarks (i.e remarks made with the likelihood of eliciting angry responses from persons against whom such remarks are made). • Insulting and offensive comments • Remarks calling for confrontation and violence • Expressions or comments promoting divisiveness • Innuendoes
There were also seven incidents of comments considered pacifist, conciliatory, civil and non-provocative.
Breakdown of types of expressions monitored:
Nature of Language used on the programme Frequency Percentage Pacifist and conciliatory 3 10.3 Civil and acceptable 4 13.8 Provocative remarks 7 24.1 Insulting and offensive comments 7 24.1 Expressions or comments promoting divisiveness 2 6.9 Remarks calling for confrontation and violence 5 17.2 Innuendoes 1 3.4 Total 29 100
Examples of Expressions recorded
Remarks calling for confrontation and violence • On April 2, 2012 on Oman FM’s National Agenda, Samuel Awuku of the NPP said, “NPP supporters should squarely meet their NDC opponents when they try to harass them at the registration centres.” “NPP leaders should permit radicals in their party to prove their equal worth of violence.”
• Odeneho Kwaku Appiah (NPP activist) who called into Kessben FM’s Maakye programme held on April 5, 2012, said, “Fight anybody who dares to take the biometric machine(s).”
• On Citi FM’s Eye Witness News of April 4, Michael Teye Nyaunu, NDC MP for Lower Manya Krobo said, “There are too many sycophants, hypocrites and outright cowards in the NDC.”
Radio stations and incidence of indecent expressions
The findings show that Accra-based Asempa FM registered the highest number of insulting and offensive expressions on its network while Citi FM recorded the highest number of remarks calling for confrontation and violence. Fox FM in Kumasi and Ankobra FM in Axim were the stations on which conciliatory comments were recorded.
Tone of Expression
In addition to monitoring the language used, the tone used on the airwaves was also assessed. The findings show that the tone used on the programmes was generally threatening/overbearing/swearing, adversarial/harsh/provocative and unfavourable even though most of the hosts/ presenters were found to be using more conciliatory and pacifist tone.
More than a third of the adversarial, harsh, provocative tone were used by discussants/callers who are affiliated to the NPP (35.7%) and NDC (35%). A significant number of the NPP and NDC discussants/callers also used threatening, overbearing, swearing tones. With regard to specific programmes and the tone used during such programmes, the Citi Breakfast Show registered more threatening, overbearing, swearing tones.
Subject of discussion:
Stories/discussions on the biometric voter registration elicited the highest number (40%) of remarks calling for confrontation and violence. Discussions/comments on the NPP flagbearer’s remark ‘All Die Be Die’ registered the majority of insults and offensive comments of all the programmes and stories coded.
MFWA is however pleased to note that findings from the first week of monitoring have shown that most of the programmes focussed more on issues (33.3%) than personalities (25.9%).
The MFWA will also like to commend Fox FM in Kumasi and Ankobra FM in Axim for being the radio stations that recorded the most civil and pacifist languages on their network. We also want to encourage all radio stations across the country and the respective hosts/presenters to insist and ensure that language used on their networks promote peace and dignity in our political discourse.
About a month ago, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) launched its project on: Promoting Decent Language Campaigning for a Peaceful, Free and Fair Elections in Ghana in 2012, funded by Star-Ghana. The project was informed by the increasing resort to indecent expressions among political activists in elections-related and general political discussions, particularly on radio.
The project involves daily monitoring of campaign language or expressions by politicians and activists on 31 radio stations across the country. The monitoring also includes assessing the conduct of the stations that are being monitored. To ensure that the monitoring is reliable and credible, a comprehensive monitoring instrument was developed through the support of language experts from the University of Ghana, the Ghana Bureau of Languages and a Consultant from the School of Communication Studies.
Next was the selection and training of 31 monitors, one for each radio station being monitored. The selection of the monitors was rigorous and meticulous to ensure that known activists or supporters of political parties were not included, and also to ensure that those selected had at least, the basic requirement to understand and use the monitoring instrument. For example, all monitors have a university degree.
The main objective for this project is to contribute to ensuring issues-based campaign and peaceful elections this year, by monitoring and exposing political parties, activists and radio stations that use indecent expressions. Weekly reports from all the monitors will be analysed by the MFWA and presented to the public through the media.
The weekly reports will, therefore, will sensitise the public to know which political party, candidates or radio stations, are the most abusive in their expressions and are thus not focusing attention on the issues of importance to the majority of our citizens. The reports, it is hoped, will also help citizens make informed voter decisions, and provide credible evidence for the appropriate institutions and groups to take informed remedial actions.
Monitored acts of Indecent Expressions (April 1 to 7, 2012) Findings of monitoring reports received and analysed showed that indecent expressions occurred predominantly during morning and evening discussion programmes aired in the Akan language. Typically, indecent expressions recorded on morning programmes were expressions calling for confrontations and violence while evening and night discussion programmes featured mainly insulting and offensive comments. In both cases, there were instances of provocative comments.