Political Science lecturer at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo, has described a move by the National Communications Authority to shut down two radio stations in the capital, Accra, as a good move executed at the wrong time, ABC News Ghana can report.
According to Prof. Gyampo, the decision to close down the stations at a time when Ghana’s ranking on international press freedom has fallen suggests disingenuousness on the part of the regulator.
Radio Gold and Radio XYZ were shut down by the NCA over their failure to renew their operating licenses.
The two stations were handed letters detailing the reasoning behind the order and asked to re-apply for a fresh license if they still wished to operate as Frequency Modulation (FM) radio stations.
The move by the NCA has riled feathers and gotten some stakeholders, including GIBA, worried. But the NCA says it was only carrying out its duties in compliance with a ruling of the Electronic Communications Tribunal.
A press statement issued immediately after the closure of the two stations read in part “Radio stations operating without valid authorisations as determined by the 2017 FM Broadcasting Audit are being shut down with immediate effect as an enforcement action in view of the decision of the Electronic Communications Tribunal.
“Following the FM Spectrum Audit in 2017, some stations were found to be in default and were fined by the Authority. However, some of the stations in default were not satisfied and proceeded to the various courts; Electronic Communications Tribunal (ECT) and the High Court to appeal against the NCA’s decision.
“This resulted in a decision by the ECT in 2018 which reviewed the status of expired FM Radio Broadcasting Authorisations and which ruled among others that Companies whose authorisations had expired reverted to the same position as a fresh applicant. While some stations shut down following this decision, others did not.
“To this end, and in line with Regulations 65 (1) of the Electronic Communications Regulations, 2011, L. I. 1991, which states that “A person shall not use a radio frequency without authorisation from the Authority” the National Communications Authority (NCA) is enforcing the shutdown of FM radio stations who are operating without authorization,” the statement read.
But though the University of Ghana lecturer applauds the Authority for doing the right thing by closing them down, he berates the NCA for the timing.
“We cannot allow Radio stations to operate without requisite licenses. I am of the firm belief and conviction that those who seek to ensure that politicians do the right thing, must themselves operate within the confines of rules” he said.
He added, “But whoever ordered the shutdown of the radio stations at this crucial time, when our international rating on press freedom has reportedly gone down; and more importantly, when the political temperature of the country seem to be rising, has no good judgement and proper sense of timing. Couldn’t this have been deferred to next week? A bad thing, is a good thing done at the wrong time” he noted.
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