General News of Monday, 1 October 2018
An Accra High Court on Friday granted an injunction by the Multimedia Group, operators of Joy 99.7 FM and Bell Communication Limited, operators of Asempa 94.7 FM, against the National Communication Authority (NCA) and its Director General, Joe Anokye, to prevent the regulator from going ahead to reduce the signal strength of the radio stations from 100 km radius to 45 KM radius.
The Ministry of Communications through the NCA sometime in 2015, announced its intentions to reduce the reach of all radio stations from 100km to 45 km, a decision the stations vehemently opposed through their association, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA).
The NCA followed this with a series of letters to Multimedia group and other radio stations in 2017, directing them to reduce their signal strengths from 100 to 45 km radius; making compliance with the directive a precondition for the renewal of their operating licenses, a move the media houses said would be inimical to their operations, existence and business.
Lawyers for the multimedia group led by Sampson Lardi Ayenini, prayed the court of presided over by justice Georgina Mensah Datsa, that the actions and intended actions of the NCA were wrongful and contrary to law.
In the motion sighted by citinewsroom.com, lawyers for the applicants argued that the NCAs directives which were based on Sections 2-5 of Act 769, Sections 3-16 of Act 775, Regulations 56, 57, 105, 106 and 107 of the Electronic Communications Regulations 2011 (LI 1991), did not only purport to grant respondents unreasonable unfettered power to exercise discretion, but to act in breach of and inconsistent with articles 21, 23, 162 (1) and (3) and 296 of the constitution of Ghana.
The plaintiffs therefore went by original notice of motion, and prayed the court for an order of Certiorari, to quash the decisions and directives of the respondents (NCA), to the applicants to reduce the authorized coverage radii of their radio stations, joy 99.7 FM and Asempa 94.7 FM from 100 km to 45 KM.
They also sought an order of Prohibition prohibiting the respondents from continuing to deal with respondent’s license renewal applications in line with directives set forth in letters sent to the station by the NCA, as well as an Order of Mandamus directing Respondents to grant and issue Final Renewal Authorization to applicants upon payment of attendant fees only, and do so within 14 days of judgment.
The respondent argued that the directives were well within their mandate as spelt out in law, arguing that other media houses had agreed and complied with the directives.
Lawyers for the multimedia and Bell Communications disputed this and sought an order of injunction restraining Respondents from acting to close down their stations and also prevent them from going ahead to take any actions, which would be inimical to their interests and operations, while the matters were yet to be determined.
Presiding judge Mrs. Mensah Datsa, granted the injunction and adjourned the hearing of the substantive matter to December 2018.
Meanwhile, other radio stations to be affected by the NCA directive have given their indication to join the suit brought by the radio stations against the regulator.