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General News Mon, 14 Oct 2019

Radio stations closure: Mahama goofed again - Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, says former President John Dramani Mahama erred in his reaction to the closure of some 54 radio stations across the country earlier this year.

The former president, a few months ago, asserted that the closure of the radio stations was politically motivated as pro-NDC stations were being targeted.

“The authorities are hiding behind regulation and law but in the end, it is about free speech and press freedom. I believe that Nana Akufo-Addo who touts himself as a human rights advocate and an advocate of press freedom expression and free speech must feel so embarrassed about the closure of these stations,” he said during his interaction with Ghanaians on social media in August.

But reacting to this, the communications minister noted that only two out of the 54 stations closed, Radio XYZ and Radio Gold, were pro-NDC, as such, the former president’s claim is untrue.

“It is factually incorrect and blatant untruth to say as some, including former President Mahama and the Media Foundation for West Africa, who really ought to have known better, have sought to portray that only opposition radio stations have been targeted for closure using the law. No such intention actuated this exercise.”

She also cautioned political commentators to desist from politicising the closure of the radio stations.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful further noted that the former president also goofed when he claimed Public Services Commission had refused to reconstitute the Electronic Communications Tribunal after the resignation of its former chairman, Prof Date-Bah in June 2019.

“He did not cite pressure from any quarter as the reason for his resignation,” she stressed, adding that the Public Services Commission accepted the resignation, which was to take effect in July 2019, and announced the appointment of new members of the tribunal in August.

“The new panel, however, could not start sitting until after the legal vacation. The new panel chaired by Dr Kiss- Adjabeng resumed sitting on 8th October 2019. It is therefore untrue to say that the Public Services Commission refused to reconstitute the ECT as the former president intimated.”

“J.M. goofed again,” she stated.

A statement issued by the NCA on May 9, 2019, said the closure of the radio stations were carried out 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 authorization from the Authority.”

The NCA referenced a 2018 ruling by the Electronic Communications Tribunal on the status of FM stations with expired authorization saying companies whose authorizations had expired reverted to the same position as fresh applicants.

It added that the applications were to through the required procedure for new FM Broadcasting Authorisation refuting claims that their decision is politically motivated.

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has also said the government’s shutdown of some radio stations have the tendency of undermining press freedom in the country.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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