Opinion NCA shuts down TV channels and so what?

In as much as one would applaud the NCA for the move, their seemingly delayed reactive approach is a matter of concern.

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Logos of the NCA and some channels which have been shut down play

Logos of the NCA and some channels which have been shut down

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News of the National Communications Authority (NCA) taking off some television channels in the country went viral shortly after the decision was taken.

The outfit responsible for the licensing of media houses and organizations has explained that it took off those channels because they violated Section 2(4) of the Electronic Communications Act 2008, Act 775 which states that, “…a person shall not operate a broadcasting system or provide a broadcasting service without a frequency authorisation by the Authority.”

Arguably, the inclusion of OB TV owned by controversial Bishop Daniel Obinim was the news of the day. Information is that these channels [ATV, Clive TV, ECN, Zoe TV, BTA, Care TV, Kessben TV, Elijah TV and Obinim TV] were operating over a satellite as they used a third party satellite infrastructure provider, K-Net, to send their programmes onto it.

In as much as one would applaud the NCA for the move, their seemingly delayed reactive approach is a matter of concern.

NCA logo play

NCA logo

 

How long have these channels been operating and when did the NCA take notice of the airing of these unauthorised stations? These ‘illegal’ channels have been operating for a while and for it to take the NCA long to close them down seems to suggest it was sleeping on its job.

Does the NCA conduct monitoring exercises at all? Or could it be that it detected and subsequently gave these stations a grace period to get authorisation or face a shutdown? Certainly, that cannot be an excuse because what is unlawful is unlawful and as such, the situation should not have been massaged. The stations should have been ordered to stop operating until they go through the required processes.

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Even though some of the channels had good content, others leaves much to be desired. The practice of independent broadcasting opened doors for some operators to sit on their channels and abuse people who offended them.

Preferably, the NCA should consider checking content before issuing out licenses because the media has assumed a freedom without any restraints. It is characterized by no control of language and surely, the airwaves must be sanitised.

Dr Wereko Brobbey has been advocating for the Broadcasting Bill to be passed play

Dr Wereko Brobbey has been advocating for the Broadcasting Bill to be passed

(myjoyonline.com)
 

There is more work to be done after the shutdown. It is evident that the existing legislation framework does not fully address the requirements for sustainable broadcasting in a technological environment and that necessitated a broadcasting law.

“The discourse and output of Ghana’s media is dominated by loud, partisan, but hollow posturing by surrogates acting on behalf of the political classes, both the rulers and those waiting to be ruled and it is facile and uninformed propaganda devoid of any or little factual information or weighty,” pioneer radio broadcaster, Dr. Wereko Brobbey said in 2013 while delivering a lecture as part of activities to celebrate World Press Freedom Day.

“Moving on today’s liberalised environment, it is necessary to put in place a legal and regulatory framework for broadcasting and for the mass media in general, which is premised on the guarantee of the right to freedom of speech and expression, press freedom and the right to information,” Dr Edward Omane Boamah, Minister of Communications said this in 2015 at a stakeholders forum on the Broadcasting Bill.

Years after stakeholders had advocated for it, the bill is still in limbo and has subsequently rendered the National Media Commission ‘toothless’.

The menace created by some of the stations affected by the recent enforcement actions by the NCA will escalate if they complete the process in securing a license to operate. Undoubtedly, they will add to the harm being caused by some of the already existing media houses.  

Yes, the NCA should be lauded for shutting down these channels. As the saying goes, “Better late than never”. But the action is just one of the many solutions to sanitising the media space. The conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis should always serve as a reminder. Let abusive languages be checked as well.

Wait a minute, were these defaulting channels paying taxes from the commercials they aired during the period?

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