NCA draws dagger; more radio stations to go

Mon, 2 Oct 2017 Source: dailyguideafrica.com

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 the Authority, all it did was to enforce the rules and apply the requisite sanctions against defaulting companies that operate radio stations in the country as specified by the enabling law.

“Spectrum is finite and those privileged to be allocated frequencies should respect the same rules which gave them that right,” according to the NCA.

Thirty-four stations have already had their licences revoked by the NCA for not renewing them, even after several notices.

Owners of the radio stations sanctioned for operating with expired licences, among others, will have to cough up about GH¢1.18 billion.

The stations include Accra-based Radio Gold, Atlantis Radio, Radio XYZ, Atinka FM and Vision 1 FM.

A further 13 FM Authorisation Holders have also been issued with reprieve as pertains to their authorisations.

“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 operation or otherwise,” a statement released by the NCA on Thursday posited.

Of the stations, Radio XYZ has been fined GH¢4,090,000; Atinka FM, GH¢14,800,000 whiles Radio Gold and Atlantis Radio picked up the heftiest fines of GH¢61,330,000 and GH¢60,350,000 respectively.

The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament seems seriously angry with the NCA’s decision to revoke the operating licences of the radio stations, including NDC’s propaganda station, Montie FM.

It would be recalled that the NCA, in a press release on September 28, 2017, pointed out that it had sanctioned a total of 131 radio stations for various infractions in line with Section 13 of the Electronic Communications Act 2009.

Speaking to DAILY GUIDE, a source at the NCA queried, “If those given those frequencies do not respect the rules, should we just leave it to God and wring our 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 stressed.

Though the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has raised concerns of witch-hunt of some of the stations affiliated to the party, the source pointed out, “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.”

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 off if other state institutions went by the book in the manner the National Communications Authority (NCA) has done – sanctioning of 131 radio stations for various offences.

Mr Cudjoe 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.”

He observed that “given that some of the stations were found to have been operating illegally for over 15 years, 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.”

NDC weeps

But in a statement signed by its ranking member on communications, ABA Fuseini, the minority in parliament described as “draconian” fines slapped on the defaulting radio stations by the NCA.

The NDC insisted that the action by the regulator is “troubling” and may have “grave implications for press freedom and media pluralism.”

According to the NDC, whilst the NCA is by law empowered to take the decision it has taken, the regulator has been high-handed in the sweeping sanctions.

“The minority in parliament has learnt with grave concern of an on-going exercise by the National Communications Authority (NCA) under which selected media houses have been subjected to very steep regulatory sanctions,” it said.

The NDC, while in power in the last eight years, threw caution to the wind and granted radio licences to its appointees and sympathizers across the country.

Source: dailyguideafrica.com
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