Former President John Mahama is certain that the closure of pro-opposition radio stations; Radio Gold and Radio XYZ, was politically motivated.
“There are more than 300 radio stations in Ghana. Why those two? Definitely, there were political reasons behind the closure of those stations and so it is unfortunate,” Mr. Mahama remarked at the Oxford Saïd Business Centre.
The National Democratic Congress flagbearer stressed that the National Communications Authority (NCA) should have done its best to avoid closure of stations.
“The role of a regulator is to build, not to destroy. So if they haven’t renewed their licenses, it is your duty to remind them you haven’t renewed your licenses and eventually you must even give them notices and give them a deadline.”
If notice had been given, Mr. Mahama said the closures, which have been criticised by observers like the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), “would be understandable.”
In the meantime, Mr. Mahama suggested that he expected better of the Akufo-Addo administration.
“The President has prided himself on being a human rights campaigner and I don’t think things like this should be happening under his watch,” he said.
Why the closure
A statement issued by the NCA 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.”
The NCA referenced a 2018 ruling by the Electronic Communications Tribunal on the status of FM stations with expired authorisation saying companies whose authorisations had expired reverted to the same position as fresh applicants.
It added that the applications were to through the required procedure for new FM Broadcasting Authorisation.
The shut down of stations extended beyond just Radio Gold and Radio XYZ.
Back in September 2017, the NCA looked to sanitise the broadcasting sector shutting down 34 radio and television stations for various infractions.
The NCA also imposed fines ranging from GHc50,000 to GHC61,000,000.
The NCA in the 2017 audit fined Radio XYZ GHs 4,090,000 in September 2017 for operating with a license that expired on 8th May 2016.
In the report, Radio Gold was also fined GHs 61,330,000 for operating with a license that expired on 6th September 2000.