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The National Communication Authority (NCA) should have adopted the approach used by the Bank of Ghana in sanitising the banking sector, in dealing with defaulting radio stations that failed to renew their licences, Nana Oye Lithur, a former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, has said.
Although she disagreed with how the central bank dealt with some banks, she acknowledged that the BoG nonetheless supported some banks to survive and merged others, too, so they could still be in business.
Nana Oye Lithur said the NCA could have been more tactful with its handling of the radio stations that were closed recently.
Among the closed stations are pro-NDC Radio Gold and Radio XYZ as well as pro-NPP station Space FM.
A statement from the NCA said: “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”.
However, speaking on Straight Talk hosted by Felicity Naana Nelson on Class 91.3FM on Thursday, 30 May 2019, Ms Oye Lithur, a human rights lawyer said: “It is obvious that the NPP government is politicising certain key public institutions. We saw what happened with the public universities, with Kwame Nkrumah University and the university in Winneba and partly in Ho, where tertiary education institutions were politicised.
“There was a level of political influence, meddling with their issues; we had to get people to step in to say no, you can’t do that they are governed by statutes.
“We have had the same thing play out in the security and then the third institution has been the banking industry where Bank of Ghana has closed down certain banks, amalgamated some, merged some or consolidated some.
“And then, you have the fourth estate that is the media where we have the situation where certain radio stations have been closed down, and the two notable stations – XYZ and Radio Gold – that we know they are affiliated to the Minority NDC.”
She added: “My argument has been that if, in any case, they have defaulted, which is questionable because one of the two of them said they submitted their cheques and the cheques were rejected, so, if even they have defaulted and we go by the tenets of our Constitution, which has given a broad mandate saying that we need to give the media that space, that in Ghana because of our political history, because of the contest and because of the struggles from colonial rule through military regime, through coming back into a constitutional dispensation, we say never again.
“We want a situation where there is free space, there is respect for divergent opinions and people are able to articulate and communicate whatever views or perspectives or ideas that they have through the mediums – through radio, television, online.
“That is the vision, that is the objective; free space, freethinkers, diversity in thoughts and expression. So, if that is what our Constitution says, then it flies in the face of our Constitution for the National Communication Authority (NCA) to use the heavy hammer to strike down radio stations simply because they have not paid.
“I am thinking that like the banking industry did in terms of amalgamating it, in terms of consolidating, though I criticised that, they took certain steps for certain banks and tried to salvage. For me, I believe that this is the same approach that the NCA should have adopted and they should not have just put the hammer strike and just close down the radio stations simply because they have not paid their fines.”
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