The Electronic Communications tribunal has asked the National Commission Authority (NCA) to suspend the sanctions against some radio stations accused of violating the Communications Act
The NCA) in September 2017 sanctioned 131 radio stations for violating certain aspects of the Electronics Communications Act (2009), Act 775.
Thirty-four of the radio stations had their licences revoked because their authorisations had expired and they were operating illegally.
Twenty-one other broadcasting stations also had their authorisations revoked completely since their authorisation had expired over several years and they were operating illegally.
Furthermore, 13 FM authorisation holders were issued with reprieves as pertains to their authorisations.
But the Tribunal on Monday ordered that, pending the final determination of the case that had been brought before it by the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) seeking redress for the affected stations, the NCA must not apply the penalties imposed on the defaulting stations.
The Association had earlier described the sanctions imposed on the stations as ‘harsh’, adding that the heavy sanctions could “affect the morale of others in doing legitimate business knowing the unpredictable terrain of business in Ghana”
The stations, including Accra-based Radio Gold, Atlantis Radio and Radio XYZ, 3-FM, were either fined or had their licenses revoked by the National Communications Authority (NCA), following the completion of a nationwide FM Spectrum Audit.
Radio XYZ was fined GHc 4,090,000, Atinka FM GHc 14,800,000, while Radio Gold and Atlantis Radio picked up the heftiest fines with GHc 61,330,000 and GHc 60, 350,000 respectively.
Accra-based Okay FM and Kumasi-based Hello FM, both under the Despite group, were shut down briefly as a result of the failure to pay their fines.
However, in an act of leniency, the Ministry of Communications and the National Communications Authority (NCA), slashed the fines for the sanctioned commercial FM Broadcasting stations by 50 percent.
The stations were also given additional 30 days to pay the slashed fines, which has since elapsed.
The Tribunal was set up in accordance with the provisions of Section 88 to 93 of the Electronic Communication Act, 2008 (Act 775) to consider appeals against decisions or orders made by the National Communication Authority (NCA) in 2016.