The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has considered the directive by the National Communications Authority (NCA) to Network Broadcasting Company and XYZ Broadcasting Limited, operators of Radio Gold 90.5 FM and Radio XYZ 93.1 FM, respectively, to shut down for operating without authorization. According to the NCA, the authorization of the two Accra-based radio stations to operate had long expired for which reason they must cease operating the FM radio stations until they have renew their authorization. In so directing, the NCA made reference to the decision by the Electronic Communication Tribunal in the case of Ghana Independence Broadcasting Association vrs National Communications Authority (Appeal No. ECT/APP/002/2017) and other laws to buttress its decision.
The GJA believes it is within the mandate of the NCA to apply the law on frequency authorization. And as a body that upholds the rule of law and champions same, the GJA appreciates any decision in that regard by any person or authority for the purposes of ensuring sanity in the system. So under normal circumstances, we will not be ruffled by the decision of a regulatory body to close down radio stations operating without valid authorization. However, the GJA is not courted to support the action of the NCA to close down the two Accra-based radio stations for a number of reasons:
First, the decision by the NCA to close down the two radio stations for operating without authorization suggests that all other broadcasting stations in the country have valid authorization to operate. Without casting doubt on such possibility, it would be prudent for the NCA to, in the interest of transparency, and in order to elevate its decision above reproach, publish the authorisation status of all broadcast operators in the country. The NCA may not be under any legal obligation to do so but it is enjoined by public interest to act in such manner.
Second, the GJA believes the action of the NCA has the tendency to undermine media freedom in Ghana as enshrined under Chapter 12 of the 1992 Constitution. We believe the framers of the 1992 Constitution had very good reasons to grant such elaborate freedoms to the media, although with responsibility. And nothing must be done to upstage the mindset of the constitutional framers.
In the light of the reasons cited above, the GJA calls on the NCA to immediately review its decision to close down the two Accra-based radio stations. We urge the NCA to give the two defaulting companies a lifeline to renew their authorization and operate.
The GJA wishes to take this opportunity to call on all operators of broadcasting stations whose authorization has expired or are in default of the regulations governing their operations to rectify same in order to avoid sanction by the NCA.