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September 29, 2017 | Headlines

NCA Sanctions Will Render 5,000 Workers Unemployed – Minority

CitiFMonline
NCA Sanctions Will Render 5,000 Workers Unemployed  – Minority

The Minority in Parliament has lamented that the recent sanctions imposed on 131 FM Authorisation Holders could deprive up to 5, 000 people of their jobs.

“The NCA does not also appear to have considered the deleterious impact this will have on jobs in the sector. We estimate that close to 5,000 people working in the affected stations will be rendered jobless should the current action persist,” a statement by the Minority, signed by the Ranking Member on the Communications Committee, A.B.A Fuseini said.

“This will only serve to worsen the precarious unemployment situation and add to the hardships Ghanaians are going through.”

The stations including Accra-based Radio Gold, Atlantis Radio and Radio XYZ, were either fined or had their licenses revoked by the National Communications Authority (NCA) following the completion of a nationwide FM Spectrum Audit.

In the case of Radio Gold and Atlantis, they are to pay in excess of Ghc120 million in fines.

In the statement which was released on Friday, the Minority also described the development as troubling, and one that could have “grave implications for press freedom and media pluralism.”

“These actions by the NCA threaten to roll back the gains made so far in entrenching a vibrant media culture. While we acknowledge the NCA's right to regulate the communications sector in a manner that ensures compliance with appropriate regulations, we are alarmed by the sweeping and heavy-handed approach under the current exercise.”

The Minority also suggested that, the sanctions imposed on the stations were an attempt to silence the radio stations that were seen to have opposed the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

“The current revocation and sanctions regime appears to be monetizing the right to free expression and could be construed as an effort to exact retribution particularly against stations that have traditionally been ideologically opposed to the current NPP administration,” the statement added.

‘Pay up or fold up’
A number of the stations have been given 30 days to settle their indebtedness or submit the relevant documentation as indicated in the letters sent them by the NCA.

Of the notable stations, Radio XYZ has been fined GHc 4,090,000, Atinka FM fined GHc 14,800,000 whiles Radio Gold and Atlantis Radio picked up the heftiest fines with GHc 61,330,000 and GHc 60,350,000 respectively.

A further 13 FM Authorisation Holders have been issued with reprieves as pertains to their authorisations

Find below the full statement by the Minority

STATEMENT BY MINORITY ON HIGH-HANDED REGULATORY SANCTIONS AGAINST SELECTED MEDIA HOUSES BY THE NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS AUTHORITY

The Minority in Parliament has learnt with grave concern, of an on-going exercise by the National Communications Authority (NCA) under which selected media houses have been subjected to very steep regulatory sanctions.

It is our understanding that, about 131 radio stations have either had their authorization revoked, which means they have been taken off air, or have been slapped with very draconian fines running into tens of millions of Ghana cedis in some instances. Other kinds of sanctions have been applied in a variety of cases.

We are deeply troubled by this development which has grave implications for press freedom and media pluralism.These actions by the NCA threaten to roll back the gains made so far in entrenching a vibrant media culture.

While we acknowledge the NCA's right to regulate the communications sector in a manner that ensures compliance with appropriate regulations, we are alarmed by the sweeping and heavy-handed approach under the current exercise.

The situation where alleged breaches of regulations dating back several years are suddenly cited as basis for the near-summary closure of radio stations and humongous fines, poses a mortal danger to the expansion of the frontiers of free expression.

Radio has become a foremost means of expression by large sections of our citizenry since the liberalization of the airwaves at the beginning of the current democratic dispensation. Entities operating within that space, therefore, ought to be acknowledged for their invaluable contributions to the growth of our democracy.

Regulatory enforcement ought to be undertaken in a reasonable manner that factors in the fragilities inherent in the operations of many radio stations.

The current revocation and sanctions regime appears to be monetizing the right to free expression and could be construed as an effort to exact retribution particularly against stations that have traditionally been ideologically opposed to the current NPP administration.

We are at a loss as to how millions of Ghana cedis can be imposed as fines on radio stations, failing which their authorization will be revoked only to have them sold to other entities for GHS 30,000.

The NCA does not also appear to have considered the deleterious impact this will have on jobs in the sector. We estimate that close to 5,000 people working in the affected stations will be rendered jobless should the current action persist.

This will only serve to worsen the precarious unemployment situation and add to the hardships Ghanaians are going through.

In light of the foregoing, we urge the NCA to as a matter of urgency suspend the on-going exercise and use dialogue and more flexible means to ensure compliance with relevant regulations.

This, we believe, will avert a situation where monetary value is placed on the right to free expression with its attendant difficulties.

Signed,
Alhaji A.B.A. Fuseini (MP)
Ranking Member, Communications Committee.

By: Edwin Kwakofi/citifmonline.com/Ghana

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