General News of Sat, 30 Sep 201761
Radio stations need no licenses; NCA suppressing press freedom - Wereko-Brobby
Former Chief Executive of the Volta River Authority, Charles Wereko-Brobbey believes that the National Communications Authority’s decision to sanction some radio stations found to have committed various infractions pertaining to their authorisations to operate is inappropriate.
NCA in a statement released on Thursday sanctioned a total of 131 radio stations for regulations contained in Sections 13 of the Electronic Communications Act 2009.
The move followed 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 operations or otherwise.
The FM Spectrum Audit also formed part of a wider and on-going audit of all services regulated by the NCA, including TV and ISP services. Section 13 of the Electronics Communications Act (2009), Act 775 states among others that “the Authority may suspend or revoke a license or a frequency authorisation where
(a) The license or the authorisation holder has failed to comply materially with any of the provisions of this Act, Regulations or the terms and conditions of its license or frequency authorization
(b) The licensee or the authorisation holder has failed to comply materially with a lawful direction of the Authority,
(c) The licensee or the authorisation holder is in default of payment of a fee or other money, charged or imposed in furtherance of this Act, the National Communications Authority Act, 2008 (Act 769) or Regulations.
Juxtaposing that with the Constitution of Ghana in a Facebook post, Mr. Wereko-Brobbey implied that radio stations needed no licenses to operate.
“Authorisation? When our constitution States very clearly, "There Shall be no need for a Licence .... (Art. 162(3)). Check the best dictionaries for definition of Licence. It means Authorisation. The President of Ghana was the Attorney for “Radio Eye" when this matter came up. I do not believe his very learned position has changed. No to Authorization as instrument of suppression of Press Freedom. Aluta continua. We don’t need wolves in sheep clothing,” his post read.
21 of the FM Broadcasting stations have had their licenses completely revoked after they were deemed to be operating illegally, years after failing to renew their licenses and also failing to respond to the calls of the NCA.
A total of 13 others also had their stations completely revoked for failing to renew their licenses despite responding to the calls of the NCA while 97 have been slapped with fines ranging from ¢50,000.00 to ¢61,000,000.00 depending on the infraction and the duration the infraction persisted.
Meanwhile, Head of Consumer and Corporate Affairs of the NCA, Nana Dufie Badu has said that the outfit will soon clamp down on television stations and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) flouting its regulations.
Speaking to Citi News, she noted that the NCA is poised to streamline the operations of all companies within the industry.
“The NCA had to face the Public Accounts Committee for something of this sort to answer as to why it had allowed some companies it regulates to close down, and not to pay the required regulatory fees. This is an effort that the NCA is making to streamline the operations of all service providers within the communication industry. This is not aimed at any of the FM broadcasting stations. A similar audit is also going on for TV services and ISPs among others… If there are companies that are not in compliance with the terms and conditions of the authorization, they will be sanctioned” she said.