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Member of Parliament for North Tong, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has added his voice to calls on the National Communication Authority (NCA) to come to a compromise regarding the sanctioning of some radio stations.
The Regulator sanctioned a total of 131 radio station for various infractions contained in Sections 13 of the Electronic Communications Act 2009.
34 of them who are said to be operating illegally in the country following the expiration of their license have had their licenses revoked. The NCA aside revoking the license of 34 radio stations, also fined others to the tune of GHc1.24 billion.
Radio XYZ was fined GHc 4,090,000, Atinka FM GHc 14,800,000, while Radio Gold and Atlantis Radio picked up the heftiest fines with GHc 61,330,000 and GHc 60, 350,000 respectively.
According to the body, it took the decision after conducting a “spectrum audit” into the radio space.
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.
But in a tweet, Honorable Ablakwa urged that stakeholders “work together to find a fine balance between enforcing NCA regulations and adhering to the spirit of our Constitution.”
His tweet was backed with a picture of article 162 of the 1992 Constitution. It states among others that, “There shall be no impediments to the establishment of private press or media; and in particular, there shall be no law requiring any person to obtain a licence as a prerequisite to the establishment or operation of a newspaper, journal or other media for mass communication or information.”
Can we work together to find a fine balance between enforcing NCA regulations and adhering to the spirit of our Constitution. pic.twitter.com/WEbowMo1N4— Sam Okudzeto Ablakwa (@S_OkudzetoAblak) September 29, 2017
Meanwhile, the Minority in Parliament has described as “draconian” fines slapped on defaulting radio stations.
In a statement released on Friday, the group described the development as troubling, and one that could have “grave implications for press freedom and media pluralism.”
“We are deeply troubled by this development which has grave implications for press freedom and media pluralism. These actions by the NCA threaten to roll back the gains made so far in entrenching a vibrant media culture. While we acknowledge the NCA’s right to regulate the communications sector in a manner that ensures compliance with appropriate regulations, we are alarmed by the sweeping and heavy-handed approach to the current exercise,” portions of the statement read.
“The situation where alleged breaches of regulations dating back several years are suddenly cited as a basis for the near-summary closure of radio stations and humongous fines poses a mortal danger to the expansion of the frontiers of free expression” it added.
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