Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communication, has revealed that the National Communication Authority (NCA) has received a number of petitions from both commercial and community radio stations over its recent sanctions.
According to her, the fact that the NCA has received the petitions does not mean the affected stations would be reinstated, but their request would be reviewed on case by case basis.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful made the revelation when she appeared before Parliament to brief the House on the spectrum audit carried out by the National Communication Authority.
The National Communication Authority recently imposed various sanctions on 131 radio stations for flouting its regulations with respect to the use of spectrum in the country.
The Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775) mandates the NCA to regulate the radio spectrum designated or allocated for use by broadcasting organisations and providers of broadcasting services in accordance with the standards and requirement of the International Telecommunication Union and its Radio Regulations as agreed to or adopted by the Republic.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful also stated that, where there was merit in the petition to reduce or amend the sanctions, the Ministry would work in consultation with the NCA to communicate that to the respective stations.
“The same law which gave the media the power to operate, is the same law which also gave the NCA power to sanction you,” she said.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said prior to 2015, the NCA had the power to impose any sanction at all they chose, but the schedule of penalties put a cap on how much they could impose per day which is GHC10,000.
She said, on hindsight, if Parliament thought the sanctions were too much, the House had the power to amend the law, adding that, until the law was amended or changed, it had to be applied as it was.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful also debunked claims by Samuel George, NDC Member of Parliament Ningo-Prampram, that the NCA did not have the power to impose any fees on their own ,and that it should have been brought to the House for determination.
She explained that the LI 1919 gave the NCA the power to impose any fees at all, and punish those who flouted the regulations, adding that the only thing they had to do was to publish the schedule of fees on their website and newspapers.