General News of Tuesday, 3 October 2017
The Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has backed the sanctions imposed by the National Communications Authority (NCA), on 131 radio stations.
According to her, the crackdown by the regulator on the stations as part of measures to sanitize the country’s communications sector deserves commendation.
Speaking to journalists after Parliament resumed sitting today [Tuesday], Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said:”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.”
“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 stations, including Accra-based Radio Gold, Atlantis Radio and Radio XYZ, 3-FM, were either fined or had their licenses revoked by the National Communications Authority (NCA) following the completion of a nationwide FM Spectrum Audit.
Radio XYZ was fined GHc 4,090,000, Atinka FM GHc 14,800,000, while Radio Gold and Atlantis Radio picked up the heftiest fines with GHc 61,330,000 and GHc 60, 350,000 respectively.
‘NCA monetising press freedom’
The NCA’s sanctions have been met with mixed reactions with some groups including the Minority NDC describing the fines handed out to the stations as excessive.
According to them, the sanctions which they claim could cost up 5,000 people their jobs, amounts to an attempt to monetize freedom of expression.
A statement by the Minority, signed by the Ranking Member on the Communications Committee, A.B.A Fuseini, called on the NCA to suspend the action and resort to dialogue with the affected stations.
“We urge the NCA to as a matter of urgency suspend the on-going exercise and use dialogue and more flexible means to ensure compliance with relevant regulations,” the statement said.
The Media Foundation For West Africa (MFWA) has also expressed concerns with the sanctions, stating that the NCA itself failed in its mandate as some of the stations had been in default for over a decade.
“Why would the NCA sit down over the years, and in their own statement they indicated that some of these affected media organizations had actually failed to renew or pay whatever it is for as many as 17 years. So you ask yourself, all these years what the NCA was doing?”