President Nana Akufo-Addo has advised the management of all closed-down radio stations to follow the right procedures to have their stations reopened.
The President said because he was not the one who shut down the stations, it “would be difficult for me to be the one to unlock them. The procedures are there. I am surprised that a year or so later those procedures are not [being] used to get the radio stations back on track”.
“I don’t really think there’s any big secret about it. The law is very clear…” he said.
President Akufo-Addo gave the advice in response to a request by the National Chairman of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Samuel Ofosu Ampofo on granting amnesty to closed-down radio stations in the country.
Mr Ampofo said reopening the stations will help boost public sensitisation on the Coronavirus outbreak in Ghana.
“In our effort to ensure that we reach out to the majority of our countrymen and women, I am appealing to His Excellency [Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo] to grant amnesty and get those radio stations that have been closed down to use their frequencies to reach out to the people and to reach out to them in various languages so that we will be able to reach out to every nook and cranny of this country,” Mr Ampofo appealed when he together with other political parties met with the President last Friday to deliberate on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ghana currently has 214 cases of the novel coronavirus across six regions with the latest being the Upper East Region.
Why the closures
A number of radio stations including Radio Gold and XYZ were shut down by the National Communications Authority in May 2019.
The NCA explained that 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.”
Radio Gold, for example, had been accused of operating with a licence that expired in the year 2000.
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 go through the required procedure for new FM broadcasting authorisation.
The shutdown of stations extended beyond just Radio Gold and Radio XYZ.
Back in September 2017, the NCA in an attempt to sanitise the broadcasting sector shut down 34 radio and television stations for various infractions.
The NCA also imposed fines ranging from GH₵50,000 to GH₵61,000,000.
The NCA in the 2017 audit fined Radio XYZ GH₵4,090,000 in September 2017 for operating with a licence that expired on 8th May 2016.
In the report, Radio Gold was also fined GH₵ 61,330,000 for operating with a licence that expired on 6th September 2000.