MP Blasts NCA For Action Against Defaulting Radio Stations
| Updated Oct 20, 2017 at 4:04am
Ningo/Prampram MP, Samuel Nartey George.
The fines are irrational and are the biggest threat to press freedom in Ghana MP hits NCA hard in Parliament
The Member of Parliament for Ningo/Prampram, Samuel Nartey George has described as absurd, the actions taken by The National Communication Authority (NCA) to close-down many Radio Stations in Ghana, for allegedly operating without recourse to rules.
According to him, what the regulator has done, contradicted the popular saying, freedom of speech and media pluralism' describing the sanction as a draconian one.
"I am troubled by the report and the apparent draconian sanctions that the NCA is handing out.
Without any fear of contradiction, this action is the single biggest threat to the survival of media plurality as we have it in our Country.
"As Representatives of the people, we cannot sit idle and watch as the gains of the last three decades are washed away by virtue of what may have been a well-intentioned audit which is being executed in the worst possible manner".
Few weeks ago the NCA has published its audit reports and listed about 131 media Houses plus applicable sanctions, including fines or revoke of their authorization over the non-renewal of their authorizations.
He stated that, "the fines are irrational and are the biggest threat to press freedom in the fourth Republic and this House must not sit idle and watch by as the fourth estate of the realm has at one point or another helped each member herein seated to be seated here".
Mr. Nartey on the floor of Parliament said, the NCA in its imposition of fines has shown a clear lack of touch with reality,arguing that, "no media House in Ghana today by virtue of their radio operations including the State Broadcaster can afford to pay a fine of US$5 million and stay operational.
Many Radio Stations in Ghana today have an operating capital of less than $250,0000, pointing to the fact that".
How then does the NCA impose fines as high as $15 million on one Ghanaian Radio Station and expect payment of same? He wondered.
To him......."these fines in themselves are illegal and not founded on any law of our land.
A visit as at the 1st of October 2017 to the website of the NCA showed a Schedule of Penalties under the Regulatory Framework Link.
This allows you to download the entire document and nowhere in that document is a GHS10,000 per day fine stipulated.
In the instance for example of “Contravening the obligations in a License or Authorization” the penalty stated in the document is a fine ranging between GHS1,000 to GHS2,000".
He however, accused the Authority of selectively applying the law...."Mr. Speaker is the uneven application of sanctions by the NCA.
On page 7 of the NCA’s press release on its audit findings, two entities are listed under the Greater Accra Region as having their licenses revoked, Messrs. Paradise Vision Estates Ltd and Zee-Zee FM Radio Co. Ltd. However, it is interesting to note that only one of these entities has been taken off air whilst the other remains on air".
But the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu Ekuful has disagreed with him, adding that actions taken by the NCA has no political interference.
In statement titled: THE SPECTRUM AUDIT CARRIED OUT AND ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS AUTHORITY, Madam Ursula the Authority has the mandate drawn from the National Communications Authority Act, 2008 (Act 769).
Accirsing to her, "This NPP government of Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic, is determined to apply our law and ensure sanity prevails in all sectors".
It is preposterous for anyone to suggest that the implementation of a law this august house has passed is a threat to media plurality. No media house has been hand-picked to face sanctions. She stated.
Story by Francis Edzorna Mensah