The National Communications Authority (NCA) has ascribed the recent shutdown of some radio stations to the need for effective management of national spectrum in compliance with ruling of the Electronic Communications Tribunal.
Mr Joe Anokye, the Director General of the NCA said the actions taken to shutdown Radio Gold and Radio XYZ was meant to enforce the ruling of the Telecommunications Tribunal Court, which proceedings ended in June, 2018, confirming that the authorization of some spectrum holders had expired.
Speaking in a media briefing on Thursday, the NCA Director General said spectrum was a finite resource and hence the need to prudently manage it by ensuring that users of the spectrum adhered to the regulations required.
He said the action to shut down the two radio stations was part of an on-going process, which started from Accra, the capital city and that it would continue in other regions until the end of May.
He said Radio Gold and Radio XYZ were the only FM station that had become illegal in the Greater Accra Region category and that more users of the spectrum would be shut down across the country by the end of the exercise.
He said Radio Gold had its spectrum licenses expiring in 2000, while Radio XYZ had its spectrum license expiring in 2016, explaining that every radio station was given five years to renew their license, but the affected stations did not adhere to.
He said the tribunal and its ruling decided that at the time the fines were made, the authorization had expired so there was contradiction in applying the fines, which meant the NCA needed to return the monies of all those who had paid and appropriately applied the inherent sanctions that were applicable adding that “if your authorization expires and you are still on air, you are illegal and we decided to apply the rules as we have done.”
Asked which other stations were yet to follow, he was reluctant to mention them, but said that all those that had defaulted and were operating illegally would soon be shutdown.
He said for the affected radio stations to come back on the spectrum, they would have to start the process of applying from the scratch and join the many applications already received by the NCA adding that they were not likely to receive the same frequency, but would only get what would be available.
Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister for Information said the exercise was not against press freedom because every person was free to practice in the media in Ghana through any other medium of platform, but operating through an electronic spectrum and frequency was what required licensing by the NCA.
He said spectrum acquisition was not linked to press freedom because in Ghana, everyone is free to practice in the media landscape without any restriction, but because the spectrum is a finite resource used by other organisations like airlines and internet providers, it needs to be managed.