Claims That NCA Attacking Free Press Absolute 'Nonsense'
Financial Analyst, Sidney Casely Hayford, believes the National Communications Authority's (NCA) clamp down on 131 radio stations, for various offenses including operating with expired licenses, will sanitize the media space.
Speaking on The Big Issue, the social commentator said the claims that the NCA’s hefty sanctions were an attack on press freedom were “nonsense”
In his comments on the matter, Mr. Casely Hayford noted that “the only people who are concerned and who are yelling for some kind of letting up of these fees are the social democrats.”
“A lot of the stations are open not for commercial reasons or not for business reasons, but for political reasons. So many of them are out there just because they wanted to join the political fray, and they get set up overnight and they get frequencies. So this [the sanctions] will sanitize the system.”
These sanctions have been criticized by the National Democratic Congress Minority in Parliament as an attempt by the NCA to monetize freedom of expression .
Some of the notable stations sanctioned by the NCA are Accra-based Montie FM and Radio Gold, known to be pro-NDC, of which the latter received the largest fine of GHc 61,330,000.
The Minority believes the huge fines imposed on the stations were unreasonable and all, but ensured the collapse of these media organisations
The concerns notwithstanding, Mr. Casely Hayford reminded that the NCA had a just cause to sanction these stations.
“Those who agree to belong to a certain organisation are given a certain obligation to do so, and are under obligation to also fulfill the terms and conditions under which they continue to be licensed.”
Ailing media space
Mr. Caseley Hayford added that, this development was a reflection of the media space generally “and the reflection of the industry is that, it is not a very lucrative industry because we know that they don't pay staff very well.”
Beyond this, he noted that “a lot of the other radio stations are barely carrying on.”
“In fact, most of them are surviving because the owners continue to make payroll at the end of every month in order to keep the stations open,” Mr. Caseley Hayford stated.
Owners of the radio stations sanctioned for operating with expired licenses as well as other offenses, would have to cough up about GHc1.18 billion.
34 radio stations have already had their licenses revoked by the NCA for not renewing their licenses even after several notices.
NCA said it took the decision after conducting “spectrum audit” into the radio space.