Communications Regulator Closes Down Radio Gold, Radio XYZ

The National Communications Authority (NCA), the broadcasting and telecommunication frequency regulator in Ghana, has 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.

Much as we appreciate the need for the NCA to enforce its regulations, we find it unacceptable for the precincts of a radio station to be invaded with armed security personnel, which could be intimidating to the staff of the station. The MFWA is deeply concerned about the shutdown of Radio Gold and Radio XYZ which are a source of news, information and entertainment for thousands of listeners in Accra. We, therefore, urge the Management of the station to approach the NCA to discuss an amicable settlement of their differences for the stations to resume broadcasting.

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