The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association-GIBA has described the decision of the National Communication Authority to shut down Radio Gold and Radio XYZ, as too harsh.
President of the association, Andrew Danso Anninkora, said on Joy News’ TopStory Thursday that, the way out to resolve the impasse is “not the recitation of laws but dialogue.”
Officials of the NCA stormed the premises of the stations mentioned supra with armed security personnel and ordered their immediate closure on Thursday.
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, Myjoyonline.com gathered.
But GIBA’s president is surprised at the actions of the NCA. According to him GIBA “has a cordial relationship” with the NCA and hopes that situations like this should provide an opportunity for parties to “sit down and agree for mutual benefit.”
Bemoaning the posture of the NCA in recent times, Mr. Anninkora feels it may not portend well for the cordiality which has existed in the past.
“The NCA is being harsh in dealing with its members. NCA in recent times is applying very harsh methods,” he lamented
According to him, prior to this recent decision, no communication had gone on. “We can quote laws to support whatever we want to do” but are we saying these stations never had licenses?
Mr. Anninkora alleged that letters which his members had written to the NCA seeking renewal of their licenses have not been responded to. “Nobody is a criminal. None of these stations is involved in any criminal activities in this country.”
Sermonising, Mr. Anninkora said, “State authorities should let fairness prevail.” He believes that the relationship which has existed between the NCA and its members can “be relied upon to get people to comply.”
NCA justifies its action
Following the shut down of the two radio stations, the NCA has been explaining its decision.
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 NCA wrote.
Reactions to the NCA’s decision.
Joys News reported from the premises Radio Gold, one of the two stations shut down to ascertain the situation on the ground.
According to the report, not only have supporters of the opposition political party, National Democratic Congress (NDC) throng the premises of the station but security officers drawn from the Mamprobi Division of the Ghana Police Service, were also there to enforce law and order.
According to the management of the station, there was no prior notice of the shut down.
Equally alarming to the management was that NCA came to the premises of the station with armed personnel.
In fact, before they could ascertain the contents of the letter which contained instructions to shut down, NCA personnel at the premises of the station ordered technicians of the station to stop broadcasting.
On his part, a former presidential hopeful of the NDC, Sylvester Mensah, who was part of supporters at the premises of the station said, they are “not happy that NCA came to close down the station.
“What NCA did, has political connotation,” Mr. Mensah alleged.
Reminded by the reporter that the NCA was only doing its job, Mr. Mensah retorted that ‘there is a difference between legitimate enforcement of regulation and politically motivated enforcement of legislation.”
“It is quite obvious that government is calling for civil disobedience,” he advanced but was quick to add that, what “this country needs is order.”
He is, however, calling his party, the NDC to sit up for election 2020 as coming events cast their shadows.