The National Communications Authority’s (NCA) Governing Board has approved the grant of 133 FM radio broadcasting authorisations, including new applications from entities whose FM radio stations were closed down following the 2017 FM Audit, as well as existing stations seeking to renew their expired FM radio broadcasting authorisations.
The permission came at a Board meeting on October 11th, 2021.
The NCA said in a statement on Tuesday, October 12 that the Board’s approval is conditional on the applicants attending a workshop on the terms and circumstances of FM radio broadcasting authorizations.
“The workshop’s goal is to clarify the legal, regulatory, and technical prerequisites for establishing and operating an FM radio station.”
“At the conclusion of the workshop, provisional authorisations will be awarded to successful applicants, and frequencies will be assigned to them only if the Provisional Authorisation’s conditions are met.
“A person shall not operate a broadcasting system or provide a broadcasting service without a frequency authorisation from the Authority, as stated in Section 2(4) of the Electronic Communications Act, 2008, Act 775.”
“According to Section 73 of Act 775 of 2008, offenders are subject to a fine of not more than three thousand penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not more than five years, or both.”
The NCA shut down various radio stations, including Radio Gold and Radio XYZ.
The closures, according to a statement released by the NCA in Accra on May 9, 2019, were carried out in accordance with Regulation 65 (1) of the Electronic Communications Regulations, 2011, L. I. 1991, which states that “No person shall use a radio frequency without authorisation from the Authority.”
According to the NCA, “Companies whose authorisations had expired reverted to the same position as a fresh applicant,” and “these applications shall go through the required procedure for new FM Broadcasting Authorisation,” referring to a 2018 ruling by the Electronic Communications Tribunal on the status of FM stations with expired authorisation.
The regulator made no mention of the two stations, hinting that the inspection was a broad one. Only Radio XYZ and Radio Gold, however, have been shut down so far. In the afternoon of May 9, NCA officials, backed by armed police officers, raided the radio stations to enforce the shutdown.
The regulator has stretched its muscles against “defaulting stations” for the second time in less than two years. In September 2017, the NCA conducted a huge purge of the broadcasting business, shutting down 34 radio and television stations for different violations under Section 13 of the Electronics Communications Act (2009), Act 775.
A number of stations were also fined by the regulator, with fines ranging from GHC50,000 (US$11,000) to GHC61,000,000 (US$13.8 million), depending on the infraction and the length of time the infraction lasted.