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NCA tightens vigilance: Commissions frequency monitoring equipment

BY: Kester Aburam Korankye
The NCA national Broadcasting Monitoring Centre. Picture: EBOW HANSON
The NCA national Broadcasting Monitoring Centre. Picture: EBOW HANSON

The National Communications Authority (NCA) has inaugurated a national Broadcasting Monitoring Centre (BMC) to help measure transmission parameters of frequency modulation (FM) and television (TV) in the country.

Already in operation at the NCA Tower in Accra, the centre will also enable the NCA to secure proof of deviations for enforcement of authorisation conditions and be able to adduce evidence in cases of dispute before the National Media Commission (NMC) or in court. 

Breaches of distance limitations and station interferences will also be monitored.

The BMC is also to ensure that the authority meets the International Telecommunication Union radiocommunication requirements.

The Director-General of the NCA, Joe Anokye, at a ceremony to inaugurate the facility yesterday, said the centre would ensure better broadcast service quality for consumers.

“By late 2017 it had become apparent that we could no longer rely exclusively on periodic spectrum monitoring to verify compliance with technical conditions associated with authorisations, neither could we fully leverage our legacy systems to efficiently manage the increased number of broadcast authorisations,” he said.

 Some satellite dishes that have been mounted at the NCA to monitor the operation

Mr Anokye said the first BMS was installed at the NCA office in 2018 and was expanded to the regional offices between 2019 and 2020.

“Originally, we focused our efforts solely on the needs of the NCA, so the specification of the BMC was skewed towards monitoring of the technical criteria for broadcasting in line with the Authority’s mandate,” he said.

Agreement

Mr Anokye explained that in 2021 there was widespread public concern about the negative repercussions of the ritualists content of television stations that entertained spiritualists as well as charlatanic advertisements which misled a large section of the public.

As a result, he added that the NCA and the NMC signed a memorandum of cooperation on June 15 last year to regulate broadcast content in line with the provisions of Section 3(c) of the NCA Act 2008 (Act 769).

“At the public signing of this memorandum, the Minister of Information encouraged both institutions to give practical effect to the commitments in the agreement, so the NCA responded by establishing the BMC to provide the required technical support for the objectives of the memorandum,” Mr Anokye said.

Scope

The BMC has 16 satellite receivers which monitor all the 13 satellites providing Free-to-Air (FTA) satellite TV services over the territory of Ghana.

Its current capacity records content for 100 TV stations and 50 FM stations, although the country has about 300 TV stations on satellite and terrestrial platforms.

For instance, in the Greater Accra Region alone, there are 77 authorised FM radio broadcasting stations.

Mr Anokye said the NCA would scale up the monitoring capacity to exhaustively cover more stations in the second phase of the project.

Quality services

The Board Chairman of the NCA, Isaac Osei-Bonsu Jnr, in an address, said with the rapid development of the radio and TV industry and its convergence with telecommunications, it had become necessary to ensure the quality of broadcasting services because broadcasting was now competing with new technologies which showed clearer and sharper content via data services.

“There are key requirements for broadcasters to adhere to in order to comply with regulations and maintain quality of experience,” the director-general of the NCA said.

Isaac E. Osei-Bonsu (right), Board Chairman of the NCA, cutting a ribbon to officially inaugurate the BMC centre. With him are Joe Anokye (2nd from right), Director-General of the NCA, and some officials of NCA. Picture: EBOW HANSON

Mr Anokye explained that the BMC had demonstrated how state agencies could collaborate and harness each other’s systems, solutions and data to impact on their delivery without facing obstacles or hurdles when sourcing information critical to their work.

He hinted that the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) database or registry would also adopt a similar concept for its operations