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10.11.2004 General News

"Irresponsible" stations won't get new digital license - NCA

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Accra, Nov. 10, GNA - Radio and television broadcasting stations whose activities would be seen as detrimental to the nation's development may be denied license when Ghana goes digital in the next years.

Major John Tandoh (rtd), Acting Director-General, National Communication Authority (NCA), said preparation had began for the country to migrate from the analogue broadcasting bands to digital terrestrial radio and television broadcasting.

The process would require all broadcasting stations to acquire a new digital broadcasting license to enable them to operate smoothly and efficiently, the NCA boss said at the opening of the Second West African Telecommunication Regulatory Associations (WATRA) Ordinary General Meeting in Accra.

Major Tandoh said these arrangements conformed to the regulations of the International Telecommunications Union, which stressed on responsible broadcasting and to uphold high professionalism. "As a result the NCA has started monitoring the activities of local radio and television stations so as to enable it to identify the responsible ones."

The three-day meeting would look at ways to promote the harmonization of telecommunication policies and regulations in the sub-region and chart new frontiers for ICT development. Major Tandoh said the current analogue VHF Band broadcasting would be phased out to conform to the new ITU's development of ICT in the sub-region.

The broadcasting band for radio would move from the current 87.5-108 MHz to 174-230 MHz, whilst television operates from 470 Mhz to 862 MHz.

Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, the Communications Minister, in a speech read for him charged WATRA to use the meeting to evolve harmonized policies and regulations that would attract investments in infrastructure development of the sub-region.

"Indeed we must aim at attracting projects as tangible evidence of our collaboration.

"Plans for the realization of 'GSM' roaming within the sub-region no later than December 2006 are far advanced. Let us in no time employ this as a concrete proof of our collective determination..." Mr Kan-Dapaah said.

He said the problem of theft of mobile phones was rife throughout the sub-region, and it was only through coordination and cooperation in the management of various processes of registration that they could check the menace.

"As our countries move towards greater liberalization of the communications sector and deepen competition, it is necessary for regulators to strive towards lesser regulation and regulatory activity." He said if a clear framework could be established for businesses to operate in the competitive markets, establish clear rules for relations between competitors on issues such as interconnectivity dispute settlement and also give consumers clear understanding of what they may expect from business, it would minimise making regulators scapegoats. Mr Ernest C.A. Ndukwe, WATRA Chairman, said intra-regional and cross-border interconnectivity would form a major part of deliberations. He said WATRA had a major assignment, which required a collaborative effort from member countries to enable it to chart the way forward for the harmonization of policies and regulations. Mr Ndukwe brought to the attention of meeting the need for WATRA to have a full secretariat and an Executive Secretary.

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