The founder of Ghana’s first private radio station, Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby, says the National Communication Authority (NCA), has breached the 1992 Constitution for taking nine TV channels off-air.
The NCA has explained that it took off the channels for breaching its regulations. But Dr. Wereko-Brobby in an interview on the Citi Breakfast Show argued that the NCA’s move is against Article 163 of the 1992 constitution.
“…Technically, according to our constitution, none of those nine stations are in breach and they are not required to get a license. So this is a murky area and I’m glad that the chickens are coming home to roast and the Supreme Court will decide on this matter.”
Article 123(3) states that:
There shall be no impediments to the establishment of private press or media; and in particular, there shall be no law requiring any person to obtain a license as a prerequisite to the establishment or operation of a newspaper, journal or other media for mass communication or information. Dr. Wereko-Brobby’s Radio Eye suffered a setback in 1994, when his station was taken off-air for operating without a license.
He however sought interpretation at the Supreme Court. His defence was that, the 1992 constitution had given every Ghanaian freedom of expression and anyone could run a radio station without permission or authorization, but the Supreme Court ruled against him, but he later filed for a review of the ruling which is yet to happen after nearly two decades.
Dr. Wereko-Brobby on the Citi Breakfast Show noted that “we’ve been waiting 20 years for that review to be heard,” but to no avail. “22 years ago, we sought an interpretation of article 163 of the constitution which states very categorically that there shall be no need for a license.
The NCA is quoting the 1991 law, which has been superseded by our Constitution,” he added.
Broadcasting law needed to regulate content
Concerns have been raised in recent times over the broadcasting of inappropriate content on radio and TV.
Dr. Wereko-Brobby says the lack of a clear cut regulation of the sector “has to do with the absence of a broadcasting law in Ghana after 22 years of liberal environment and you keep quoting what should happen.”
“What should happen should always be founded in law; we don’t have a broadcasting law. In an the absence of law, you have to be very careful of what an L.I means, an L.I. depends on a mother law but we don’t have a broadcasting law, it’s still before Parliament. But I think the more fundamental issue about the NCA’s action is whether they are actually acting according to our constitution or not. I’ve been fighting that battle for 20 years but I’ve given up,” he added.
The 9 channels taken off-air include OB TV, Kessben TV, Clive TV, ECN, Zoe TV, BTA, ATV, Care TV, and Elijah TV.