President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has turned down a request by National Chairman for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr. Samuel Ofosu Ampofo to grant amnesty to radio stations that had their licenses revoked by the National Communications Authority (NCA).
The president who expressed shock at the request by the NDC’s national chairman said he was the one to grant such a request since there are laid down procedures for the affected radio stations to follow to have their stations back, on air.
Mr. Ampofo made the request when he took his turn to speak at the Jubilee House following a meeting the president had with political party leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic fight.
The NDC leader said the role of the media was critical and in this country hence the need for the president to grant the amnesty so they help in the fight against the outbreak.
He indicated that just like any other country, people will tune in to a station because of their ideological persuation.
He said they are people who are glued to certain media houses and would want to take public education from them.
”It is on this call that I am making a passionate appeal to his Excellency the President and to commend you [President] for the amnesty you granted prisoners recently. Your Excellency, I am asking for another amnesty from you. A number of radio stations have been closed down and in our effort to ensure that we reach out to the majority our countrymen and women, I am appealing to Your Excellency to grant amnesty,” to the radio stations closed down.
He said the move will help them use their frequencies to reach out to the people in various languages for all of us to bring the coronavirus to a halt.
But the president in responding expressed shock saying ”I was even surprised about the amnesty for the radio stations. I think that the law is very clear as to how these radio stations once they have been closed down,” can have their stations reopened.
”They were not closed down by me, that is the first thing. It is 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.”
The president said because the laws are clear on that, it does not have to take the president for that to happen.
”But as I said, the ideas that have been expressed hear are all useful to us. We will take them very much on board and continue to work with them,” he said in response to the submissions made by the political parties present at the meeting on the COVID-19 fight.
The NCA in 2019 shut down 57 out of the 144 Frequency Modulation (FM) stations that were cited for various infractions in an audit exercise.
“In accordance with the decisions of the Electronic Communication Tribunal (ECT), 30 out of the 57 stations have submitted fresh applications for FM authorisations, out of which 15 have been processed.
“The applications for the remaining15 FM stations are still being processed and the outcomes will be communicated to them after they have gone through all the requisite processes, which include technical review, management review and board approval,” Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu said at the time.
The NCA in 2017, embarked on an audit of all FM stations in the country, leading to the imposition of sanctions on stations found to have been operating with expired authorisations.
Some of the affected stations filed individual appeals at the ECT in November 2017, while other defaulters filed as a group, under the auspices of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA).
On June 18, 2018, the ECT delivered a unanimous decision in the case of GIBA vrs NCA Appeal No.: (ECT/APP/02/2017).
The tribunal quashed the penalties imposed on the FM stations, but stated that a person with an expired FM radio authorisation must lose the authorisation and re-apply, if he or she so wished.
In effect, the NCA was directed to close down all such stations, as they had no right to operate.