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Closure of radio stations: You’ve set an example, the table will turn one day – John Mahama to Akufo-Addo

Former President John Dramani Mahama has told President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that he has set a bad precedence following the closure of some radio stations that delayed in renewing their license.

Mr Mahama said this in the Upper East region on Tuesday August 17 when he was thanking the chiefs and people of the region after the 2020 elections.

He said “The constitution guarantees freedoms, human rights, freedom of association and so many other things, freedom and independence of the media and indeed there is a whole chapter on media freedom.

“Unfortunately, even when you have the best constitution you can have governments that try to bend it to be able to achieve whatever ends they have in terms of limiting our democratic rights. So today government can say that a radio station has delayed in paying its license fee and so we are shutting you down.

“When I talk about it I talk about it because of the precedence it can set .Because the shoe can be on the other foot the next day, they say the stick that is used to beat Takyi, it is the same stick they will use to be Baah. So the stations you don’t like you can close them down today, when another government comes and it decides to do the same thing to the stations they don’t like too, what kind of country will we be building?”

The National Communications Authority (NCA), the broadcasting and telecommunication frequency regulator in Ghana, shut down Radio Gold and Radio XYZ, both based in Accra and aligned to the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

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.

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