Chris Ackumey, a private legal Practitioner and a member of the legal team of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), has sued the National Communications Authority (NCA) over the recent sanctions meted out to radio stations for various offences.
He wants the court to declare the sanctions illegal, and also compel the NCA to compensate the affected stations which he says were “unlawfully” sanctioned.
[contextly_sidebar id=”TFM4NtIPepl6ZjSykRE8JCoWmGx6dx2b”]The NCA sanctioned 131 stations for various offences in September.
These sanctions ranged from the withdrawal of licenses to the imposition of fines, mostly retrospective, amounting to over GHc 1 billion.
The retrospective sanctions, in particular, have been criticized as harsh, and some have urged a legal action in this regard.
Some of the FM stations eventually shut down voluntarily, whereas others were compelled by the NCA to do so.
But the Ministry of Communications and the NCA subsequently slashed the fines, in some cases by 50 percent, or waived the fines totally.
But the legal practitioner, whose party the NDC had severely criticized the sanctions, still maintains that, the NCA erred, and is thus seeking a declaration that, since “the penalties or fines imposed by the NCA on FM stations had not been approved by the Parliament of Ghana pursuant to the Electronic Communications Act 2006 as amended and/or the National Communications Authority Act 2008, the imposition of the fines is unlawful, null, void and of no effect.”
Mr. Ackumey also contends that, the penalties, however lawful, “cannot be applied retrospectively to cover any period of any alleged regulatory infractions that preceded the days of the coming into force of the gazetted schedule of penalties.”
He is also seeking to restrain the NCA from reassigning sanctioned FM Stations’ frequencies, “until the NCA has fully complied with all requirements of law, including sections 13 of the Electronic Communications Act.
Break down of sanctioned stations
According to the NCA, eleven (11) radio stations have been requested to pay application fees for renewal of Authorisation, and also pay a fine in accordance with the NCA’s gazetted Schedule of Penalties for failure to apply 3 months before the expiry of Authorization within 30 days.
Two (2) radio stations have been asked to submit renewal application within 30 days.
Sixteen (16) radio stations have been asked to submit renewal application, pay application fees, and pay a fine in accordance with the Authority’s gazetted Schedule of Penalties within 30 days.
Twenty‐four (24) radio stations have been asked to submit omitted documents and pay a fine in accordance with the Authority’s gazetted Schedule of Penalties within 30 days.
Fifteen (15) radio stations will have their Authorisation processed after payment of fines in accordance with the Authority’s gazetted Schedule of Penalties.
One (1) radio station has been asked to settle its outstanding indebtedness before renewal of Authorization is considered.
Twenty (20) radio stations have been asked to settle their Provisional Authorization (renewal) fees which have been invalidated due to non‐payment within sixty days – to pay interest on due amount.
Eight (8) radio stations have been asked to pay a fine in accordance with the NCA’s gazette Schedule of Penalties before the authority conducts inspection as requested by the stations.
34 of the sanctioned stations had their licences revoked because their authorizations had expired and were operating illegally.
By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana