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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Choice FM Closed Down

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GOVERNMENT HAS ordered Sunshine Radio Limited, operators of  Choice Fm, an Accra-based private radio station, to “stop operating its FM radio station” under a claim by the National Communications Authority (NCA) that the company has not renewed its operating licence.

The instruction to close down the media house comes not long after the station was ordered not to broadcast a political current affairs program, ‘Ghana Speaks’ and threatened that it would be broadcasting the program at the risk of the Host losing his life and the station running into problems.

Choice Fm belongs to Fred Oware, who was recently sacked by government from his position as Chief Executive Officer of the Bui Hydro Energy Development Project, and is perceived as a pal of ex-President John Kufuor.

The NCA was established by an Act of Parliament in 1996 to regulate the communications industry and its recently appointed Board Chairman, Totobi Kwakye, was a pain in the neck of many media houses when he served as Minister of Information and later National Security Minister under the Jerry John Rawlings regime.

He presided over the revocation of the licences of a couple of private media houses, especially those that were perceived as being critical of the then government.

The letter from the NCA was signed by the Director, Regulatory Administration, Joshua Peprah, on behalf of the Director General and it stated:

“In the process of updating the records of all authorized operators and service providers in the country, we have noticed that the radio frequency authorization granted to Sunshine Radio Ltd to operate a Commercial VHF-FM radio station in the Accra Metropolis, dated 28th July, 1995, has expired. 

In accordance with Regulation 59(1) of the National Communications regulations, 2003 L.I 1719, Sunshine Radio Ltd should have submitted an application for the renewal of its authorization three (3) months before the expiry date of its frequency authorization.

“This means that Sunshine Radio Ltd must cease operating its FM radio station until such a time that the authorisation is renewed,” the letter warned.

Choice Fm’s General Manager, Raymond Afaga-Chie, in an interview with DAILY GUIDE expressed shock at the reason being given by the NCA for the closure of the station because according to him, Choice Fm had actually paid for the renewal of the said licence and that the payment was made to the NCA and an official receipt issued by the same NCA.

“We are aware that every year, we have to renew our licence and we have done that. Now they are saying we were to have filled some forms at the NCA before paying for the renewal but it was the same NCA we paid the renewal fees to and the issue of forms did not come up, so why now?

“If it is the filling of forms, it does not call for an order that we should stop operating…I am hearing very interesting things happening behind the scenes and they may be the reason for the instruction,” Raymond Afaga-Chie noted.

He produced copies of receipts which he said were issued to the station by the NCA after the payment of the said renewal fees.

In a related development, DAILY GUIDE has received reports that a number of officials from a couple of state agencies have been frequenting the premises of Ken City Media, operators of Oman FM and NET2 TV, both belonging to the multibillionaire MP for Assin North, Ken Agyepong; a financier of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

The said officials are said to be going through the cash records, bank statements and office files of the two stations in an apparent quest to find the minutest fault with any of the documents.

By Halifax Ansah-Addo

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