General News of Monday, 2 October 2017
The National Communications Authority (NCA), will go ahead and take any radio station which does not comply with its regulations off air.
The NCA has already sanctioned 131 radio stations for violating certain aspects of the Electronics Communications Act (2009), Act 775. According to NCA, all it did was to enforce the rules and apply the requisite sanctions to defaulting companies as specified by law.
“Spectrum is finite and those privileged to be allocated frequencies should respect the same rules which gave them that right” the NCA said.
Speaking to Citi News, a source at the NCA said, “if those given those frequencies do not respect the rules as they should, we just leave it to God and in the wrong hands? Heck no.”
According to the source, who is a member of the Board, they are committed to making the laws work and build strong institutions.
“We don’t care whose ox is gored, but the law should be no respecter of persons,” he said.
Though the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), has raised concerns about a possible witch-hunt of pro-opposition stations, the source said,” the law knows no political party or person. It’s the law. They should tell us whether we are right or wrong in relation to the law.”
Groups like GIBA, MFWA and others, have also described the move as high-handed and almost a threat to freedom of speech. 34 of them have already had their licenses revoked by the NCA for not renewing them even after several notices.
Owners of the radio stations sanctioned for operating with expired licenses, among others, would have to cough up about GHc1.18 billion. Already, some civil society organizations have applauded and called for support for the NCA’s action.
IMANI Africa President, Franklin Cudjoe, believes Ghana would be better of if other state institutions went by the book in the manner the National Communications Authority’s (NCA) has done in its sanctioning of 131 radio stations, for various offenses. He said it was “a wake-up call, and I suspect if every institution is doing that, without any political motive, it’s the best way to go.”
“What was the previous NCA doing that this new NCA wants to undo? It speaks volumes of the professionalism of the current NCA and its management,” he observed, given that some of the stations were found to have been operating illegally for over 15 years.
The stations include Accra-based Radio Gold, Atlantis Radio, Radio XYZ, Atinka FM, and Vision 1 FM.
A further 13 FM Authorization Holders have also been issued with reprieves as pertains to their authorizations.
Thirty-four radio stations have had their authorizations revoked completely for failing to renew their licenses after they expired over several years.
The sanctions follow the completion of a nationwide FM Spectrum Audit conducted this year to determine compliance of Authorisation Holders with their Authorisation conditions and to determine which FM stations were in operations or otherwise, a statement released by the NCA on Thursday said.
Of the notable stations, Radio XYZ has been fined GH¢4,090,000, Atinka FM fined GH¢ 14,800,000 whiles Radio Gold and Atlantis Radio picked up the heftiest fines with GH¢61,330,000 and GH¢ 60,350,000 respectively.