Former President John Dramani Mahama is threatening that the next NDC government will also close down perceived pro-NPP media houses if he is returned to power.
According to him, he believes that the Pro-NDC radio stations were only closed down because the Akufo-Addo government “disliked” them – an act that he says could set a bad precedent in the country.
The former Presidential who was addressing the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs in Bolgatanga as part of his “Thank you Tour” to the region said “When I talk about it, I talk about it because of the precedent it can set. There is a saying in Twi that ‘the stick that is used to beat Baah is the same stick that will be used to beat Takyi.
He emphasized that “So, the [radio] stations you don’t like, you can close them down today. When another government comes and they decide to do the same thing to the stations that they too don’t like, what kind of country will we be building?
Mr. Mahama who claimed he was drawing the attention of the traditional rulers to the matter because they were the moral voices of the country failed to explain to the chiefs why under his era as the Vice President, the same NCA used s.2.4 of Act 775 to shut down 9 TV stations in March 2016.
These stations were; Kessben TV, Care TV, ECN, ATV, Obinim TV, Clive TC, Zoe TV, Elijah TV, and BTA, also, Choice FM owned by then 1st Vice Chairman of NPP, Fred Oware was closed down. Mr Oware had to offload the station to the EIB group.
He rather chastised the NPP government for closing down radio stations perceived to be pro-NDC, ostensibly due to their inability to pay for the renewal of their licenses.
Mr. Mahama while addressing the chiefs said the constitution of Ghana guaranteed the freedom and independence of the media.
He claimed the current government is not allowing the media to fully enjoy these freedoms.
“Indeed, there is a whole chapter [in the constitution] on media freedom. Unfortunately, even when you have the best constitution, you can have governments that try to bend it to be able to achieve whatever ends they have in terms of limiting our democratic rights. So today, the government can say that a radio station has been late in paying its license fee and so we are shutting it down”, John Mahama said.
Mr. Mahama tasked the chiefs to draw the attention of President Akufo-Addo to the problems that such decisions could cause for the country in the future.
The NDC twice defeated flagbearer, John Mahama had made the promise on September 7, during the party’s manifesto launch in Accra that: “We’ll grant amnesty to all radio stations closed down by the Akufo-Addo Government and permit them to resume operations to ensure media freedom”.
The radio stations including two pro-opposition radio stations, Radio XYZ belonging to Julius Debrah his Chief of Staff and Radio Gold owned by the Ahwois were closed down by the NCA in May 2019 for breaching the National Communications Authority regulations.
The NCA’s 2017 audit named Radio XYZ and Radio Gold among the many FM stations that were operating against its regulations.
It fined Radio XYZ GHS4,090,000 in September 2017 for operating with a license that expired on 8th May 2016.
In the report, Radio Gold was fined GHS61,330,000 for operating with a license that expired on 6th September 2000.
Although some of the affected stations were subsequently given back their licenses, Radio Gold and Radio XYZ were not part.
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 authorization from the Authority.”
Referring to a 2018 ruling by the Electronic Communications Tribunal on the status of FM stations with expired authorization, the NCA said “Companies whose authorizations 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.”
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