NCA sued for imposing heavy fines on 131 radio stations

BY: Mabel Aku Baneseh
Mr Chris A. Ackumey and Joe Anokye — NCA boss
Mr Chris A. Ackumey and Joe Anokye — NCA boss

A legal practitioner, Mr Chris A. Ackumey, has sued the National Communications Authority (NCA) for imposing heavy fines on 131 radio stations.

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The plaintiff is asking the High Court to grant an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the NCA from reassigning or reallocating spectrum used by the affected FM stations until it has fully complied with all the requirements of law, including section 13 of the Electronic Communications Act.

He is further praying the High Court to hold that the Minister of Communication’s directive to the affected radio stations to petition her office was unlawful.

In a writ of summons dated October 31, 2017, and filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Dr Abdul Baasit Aziz Bamba, the plaintiff wants the court to declare “that to the extent that the penalties/fines imposed by defendant on FM stations had not been approved by the Parliament of Ghana pursuant to the provisions of the Electronic Communications Act 2006 as amended and/or the National Communications Authority Act 2008, the imposition of the fines/penalties is unlawful, null, void and of no effect.


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“A declaration that to the extent that prior to the suspensions and/ or revocations of the frequency authorisation of the affected FM stations, the defendant failed and/or neglected to comply with the mandatory requirements of section 13(3) of the Electronic Communications Act 2008 (Act 775) as amended, the said suspensions and/or revocations are unlawful, null, void and of no effect,” the writ of summons is praying the court.

Further declarations

The plaintiff wants the court to hold that the action of the Ministry of Communications and for that matter the Minister of Communications, in requesting the affected FM stations to petition the ministry for redress, amounts to unlawful interference in the operations of the NCA.

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Mr Ackumey is pleading with the court to declare that the suspension and imposition of fines on the affected stations was unreasonable because the NCA failed to comply with the requirements of the law contrary to the provisions of Article 23 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
Counsel is asking for an order for costs, as well as an order for the NCA to compensate affected FM radio stations whose FM authorisations were unlawfully suspended or revoked.

Background

The NCA has sanctioned a total of 131 radio stations for violating certain aspects of the Electronics Communications Act (2009), Act 775.

A total fine of GH¢ 1.1 billion has been imposed on defaulting stations.

As part of the sanctions, some radio stations, including Kapital Radio of Kumasi, which has been in existence for about 20 years, has had its licence revoked.

Other stations such as Hello FM of Kumasi and Montie FM in Accra also had their licences revoked.

The NCA has sanctioned 131 radio stations for violating certain aspects of the Electronics Communications Act (2009), Act 775.

The stations include Accra-based Radio Gold, Atlantis Radio, Radio XYZ, Atinka FM, and Vision 1 FM.

A further 13 FM authorisation holders have also been issued with reprieves as pertains to their authorisations.

Thirty-four radio stations have had their authorisations revoked completely for failing to renew their licences after they expired over several years.

The sanctions follow the completion of a nationwide FM Spectrum Audit conducted this year to determine compliance of Authorisation Holders with their Authorisation conditions and to determine which FM stations were in operation or otherwise, a statement released by the NCA on October 5, 2017.

Of the notable stations, Radio XYZ has been fined GH¢4,090,000, Atinka FM, GH¢ 14,800,000 while Radio Gold and Atlantis Radio picked up the heftiest fines of GH¢61,330,000 and GH¢ 60,350,000 respectively.

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