The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has hinted of taking legal action against the National Communications Authority (NCA) to compel it to release a full list of radio stations shut down by the authority since 2017.
According to the foundation, the NCA is demanding an amount of GHS 2,000 before the list will be made available.
MFWA contends that the request for a fee breaches the Right to Information Law (RTI Law).
Speaking at a press conference in Accra, Executive Director for the Foundation, Sulemana Braimah says his outfit will use all means to obtain the list of shut down radio stations from NCA.
“We are going to continue this struggle even if it will take us to go to court. That is something we are prepared to do. As journalists and media organizations, if the Right to Information Law is being abused right from the start, it sends a clear signal that what our aspirations were, the hopes that we have that the obstacles that we are always confronted with in terms of access to information will be resolved.”
Why the closures
A number of radio stations including Radio Gold and XYZ were shut down by the National Communications Authority in May 2019.
The NCA explained that 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.”
Radio Gold, for example, had been accused of operating with a license that expired in the year 2000.
The NCA referenced a 2018 ruling by the Electronic Communications Tribunal on the status of FM stations with expired authorisation saying companies whose authorisations had expired reverted to the same position as fresh applicants.
It added that the applications were to go through the required procedure for new FM Broadcasting Authorisation.
The shut down of stations extended beyond just Radio Gold and Radio XYZ.
Back in September 2017, the NCA in an attempt to sanitise the broadcasting sector shutting down 34 radio and television stations for various infractions.
The NCA also imposed fines ranging from GHc50,000 to GHC61,000,000.
The NCA in the 2017 audit fined Radio XYZ GHS4,090,000 in September 2017 for operating with a license that expired on 8th May 2016.
In the report, Radio Gold was also fined GHs 61,330,000 for operating with a license that expired on 6th September 2000.