Ningo Prampram Lawmaker, Samuel Nartey George who is also a Ranking Member on the parliamentary select committee on communications, has thanked the former Chairman of the Committee Mr Kennedy Agyapong, the Minister of Communications, Madam Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, Ranking Member on the committee ABA Fuseini for the role they played in getting the closed radio stations back on air.
Speaking on the announcement of the reopening of the stations in interview on the News 360 on TV3 Tuesday October 12, Sam George said “This is a welcoming news, we are grateful to the new board of the NCA for carrying through what has been four years of agony for the owners of the radio stations and their staff.
“The parliamentary select committee intervened in this matter and had several meetings with the Ministry, with the management of the NCA , the management of the radio stations. Today, for me, is a happy day because it brings to an end a long battle.
“I will say a very big thank you to former chair of the Committee Hon Ken Agyapong, Honourable Opare Ansah , my Ranking member ABA Fuseini , former Board Chair of the NCA Kwaku Sakyi Addo, the current board chair Mr Isaac Osei Bonsu, Honourable Haruna Iddrisu and certainly the Minister for Communications for working along with us. We have had our disputes, we have had our arguments, heated debate on the floor of parliament.
“The bottom line is that the independent of the media has triumph today.”
The Governing Board of the NCA has approved the grant of a total of One Hundred and Thirty Three (133) FM radio broadcasting authorisations which include new applications from entities whose FM radio stations were closed down after the 2017 FM Audit as well as existing stations which applied for renewal of their expired FM Radio broadcasting authorisations.
The approval was done at a Board meeting held on 11th October, 2021.
A statement issued by the NCA on Tuesday October 12 said this approval from the Board is subject to the applicants attending a sensitisation workshop on the terms and conditions of FM radio broadcasting authorisations.
“The workshop shall clarify the legal, regulatory, and technical requirements for the establishment and operation of an FM Radio Broadcasting station.
“Provisional authorisations shall be issued to the successful applicants at the end of the workshop and frequencies shall be assigned to the applicants only upon the fulfillment of the conditions of the Provisional Authorisation.
“The general public is reminded that per Section 2(4) of the Electronic Communications Act, 2008, Act 775, a person shall not operate a broadcasting system or provide a broadcasting service without a frequency authorisation by the Authority.
“Offenders are liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than three thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or to both, as per Section 73 of Act 775 of 2008.”
The NCA shut down Radio Gold and Radio XYZ, and several others.
A statement issued by the NCA in Accra on May 9, 2019, said the closures were carried out 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.”
Referring to a 2018 ruling by the Electronic Communications Tribunal on the status of FM stations with expired authorisation, the NCA said “Companies whose authorisations had expired reverted to the same position as a fresh applicant,” adding that “these applications shall go through the required procedure for new FM Broadcasting Authorisation.”
The regulator did not mention the two stations, implying that it was a general exercise. However, only Radio XYZ and Radio Gold have been closed so far. Officials of the NCA, backed by armed police officers, stormed the premises of the radio stations to enforce the shutdown in the afternoon of May 9.
This is the second time in less than two years that the regulator has flexed its muscles against “defaulting stations.” In September, 2017, the NCA carried out a massive purge of the broadcasting industry that saw a total of 34 radio and television stations being shut down for various infractions, in enforcement of Section 13 of the Electronics Communications Act (2009), Act 775.
The regulator also imposed fines on a number of stations ranging from GHC50,000 (US$11,000) to GHC61,000,000 (US$13.8 million) depending on the infraction and the duration the infraction persisted.