The Communications Minister has served notice that a number of television stations will soon be closed down as the National Communications Authority (NCA) seeks to enforce regulations on broadcasting.
Ursula Owusu-Ekuful says the NCA which ordered a recent closure of some radio stations is also putting together a report on defaulting TV stations as well and they will clamp down on them soon.
The Authority last week sanctioned some 131 radio stations for various offences including nonpayment of fees and renewal of licenses.
Additionally, the Authority revoked the licenses of some stations while others were fined in line with Section 13 of the Electronics Communications Act (2009), Act 775.
Responding to action by the Authority, the Vice President of the Ghana Independent Broadcasting Association (GIBA), Ernest Boateng, described it as harsh, rushed and laughable.
Related: NCA fine harsh, rushed and laughable – GIBA
Also, the Minority in Parliament has added its voice to the ban describing it as “draconian.”
In a statement last Friday, the group insisted the action by the regulator is “troubling” and may have “grave implications for press freedom and media pluralism.”
The Minority in Parliament
“We are deeply troubled by this development which has grave implications for press freedom and media pluralism.These actions by the NCA threaten to roll back the gains made so far in entrenching a vibrant media culture,” it said.
Related: Draconian NCA fines troubling – NDC Minority
But addressing a media briefing outside Parliament House Tuesday, the Minister defended the closure of the radio stations.
“We all need to recognize that the NCA has a mandate to regulate frequencies in this country and without adhering to those regulations, we run the risk of having it descend into jungle status.
“We spend valuable time in Parliament passing laws and we frequently bemoan our own inability or reluctance to enforce our own laws making them lose significance. That’s the difference between a civilized society and a state of nature,” she said
She added that “I think that the actions of the National Communications Authority (NCA) to enforce the Electronic Communications Act passed in 2008 by this august House, is a step in the right direction and ought to be commended by all right-thinking members of society.”
The Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West said, “as at the time the New Patriotic Party (NPP) took office, there was no frequency available in the country except for few in the Upper West and East and some parts of the Northern region.”
She said all other frequencies across the country have been exhausted so it better to regulate the sector and make the laws work.
“It is a valuable resource so if people are given that privilege to own and they decide to treat it with neglect and lose it they should not blame anyone.
“The reason why the audit was conducted was to ensure that some sanity prevails in this space and it will not be limited to the FM stations,” she observed.
She disclosed that there is an ongoing audit of some TV stations which are currently enjoying the digital platform for test transmission but risk being closed down if they do not live up to standard.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said such stations will not be migrated unto the main digital platform when the test transmission period is over.
“I think that is the only way that we can send a clear signal that we must make our laws work. It is critical that as in every civilised society, the rules and regulations that we all agree to, work and applied without fear or favour,” she emphasized.