The Minister of Communication, Ursula Owusu, has through the Governing Board of the National Communications Authority (NCA) brought back Radio Gold, Radio XYZ and a hundred plus others, which were closed down some few years ago, over what the Akufo-Addo government, claimed was due to non-compliance with some regulatory measures.
To many, the move is a mere approval to grant a total of One Hundred and Thirty Three (133) FM radio broadcasting authorizations, which include new applications from entities whose FM radio stations were closed down after a 2017 FM Audit, as well as existing stations which applied for renewal of their expired FM Radio broadcasting authorizations, but it is more than that.
The Herald’s findings are that, the decision to return the stations back on air, was part of the conditions the Members of Parliament on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) agreed with Ursula Owusu, the Communications Minister ahead of her approval after turbulent vetting to begin another four years in that ministry, she had cut many deals.
They had accused her of being selective in the closure, because some of the radio stations linked to the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) including Kennedy Agyapong’s Oman FM and Net2 TV, were not closed down like Radio Gold and Montie which were pro-NDC.
There are reports that, the Power station, might take some time to be fully back on air and have the needed impact it used to have.
Newsmen, DJs, presenters and technicians all left the station, following its closure to join other stations. Others have remained unemployed, while some have fallen ill or died.
Kwasi Sainti Baffoe-Bonnie, alias “Babo”, who was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Radio Gold died on February 1, 2021.
The decision by the Governing Board of the National Communications Authority (NCA), was taken at the board’s first meeting held on October 11, 2021.
There are other things required of her which she had done or about to do as part of the condition for her approval.
A statement issued by the NCA yesterday, October 12, said this approval from the Board is subject to the applicants attending a sensitisation workshop on the terms and conditions of FM radio broadcasting authorisations.
“The workshop shall clarify the legal, regulatory, and technical requirements for the establishment and operation of an FM Radio Broadcasting station.
“Provisional authorisations shall be issued to the successful applicants at the end of the workshop and frequencies shall be assigned to the applicants only upon the fulfillment of the conditions of the Provisional Authorisation.
“The general public is reminded that per Section 2(4) of the Electronic Communications Act, 2008, Act 775, a person shall not operate a broadcasting system or provide a broadcasting service without a frequency authorisation by the Authority.
“Offenders are liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than three thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or to both, as per Section 73 of Act 775 of 2008.”
The NCA shut down Radio Gold and Radio XYZ, and several others.
A statement issued by the NCA in Accra on May 9, 2019, said 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.”
Referring to a 2018 ruling by the Electronic Communications Tribunal on the status of FM stations with expired authorisation, the NCA said “Companies whose authorisations had expired reverted to the same position as a fresh applicant,” adding that “these applications shall go through the required procedure for new FM Broadcasting Authorisation.”
The regulator did not mention the two stations, implying that it was a general exercise. However, only Radio XYZ and Radio Gold have been closed so far. Officials of the NCA, backed by armed police officers, stormed the premises of the radio stations to enforce the shutdown in the afternoon of May 9.
This is the second time in less than two years that the regulator has flexed its muscles against “defaulting stations.” In September, 2017, the NCA carried out a massive purge of the broadcasting industry that saw a total of 34 radio and television stations being shut down for various infractions, in enforcement of Section 13 of the Electronics Communications Act (2009), Act 775.
The regulator also imposed fines on a number of stations ranging from GHC50, 000 (US$11,000) to GHC61, 000,000 (US$13.8 million) depending on the infraction and the duration the infraction persisted.