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5,000 Journalists, Others To Lose Jobs Over NCA Action, Says NDC   
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Minority Members in Parliament are up in arms over the recent National Communications Authority (NCA) “deep regulatory sanctions” against 131 radio stations in the country.

The NCA, in accordance with Sections 13 of the Electronic Communications Act 2009, has sanctioned 131 radio stations over various infractions.

Some of the radio stations found wanting have been handed hefty fines ranging from GH¢ 50,000.00 to GH ¢61,000,000.00 depending on the nature of offence and duration.

Reacting to the stern action taken by the NCA, the Minority in a statement signed by
Alhaji A. B.A. Fuseini, Ranking Member, Communications Committee said the sanctions would lead to close to 5,000 workers in the inky fraternity losing their jobs.

“It is our understanding that about 131 radio stations have either had their authorization revoked, which means they have been taken off air, or have been slapped with very draconian fines running into tens of millions of Ghana Cedis in some instances. Other kinds of sanctions have been applied in a variety of cases.

“We are deeply troubled by this development which has grave implications for press freedom and media pluralism. These actions by the NCA threaten to roll back the gains made so far in entrenching a vibrant media culture.

“The NCA does not appear to have considered the deleterious impact this will have on jobs in the sector. We estimate that close to 5,000 people working in the affected stations will be rendered jobless should the current action persist,” Mr Fuseini stated.

The Minority said it recognises the NCA’s right to regulate the communications sector in a manner that ensures compliance with appropriate regulations, but said “we are alarmed by the sweeping and heavy-handed approach under the current exercise.

“The situation where alleged breaches of regulations dating back several years are suddenly cited as basis for the near-summary closure of radio stations and humongous fines poses a mortal danger to the expansion of the frontiers of free expression.

“Radio has become a foremost means of expression by large sections of our citizenry since the liberalization of the airwaves at the beginning of the current democratic dispensation. Entities operating within that space therefore ought to be acknowledged for their invaluable contributions to the growth of our democracy,” Alhaji Fuseini said.

He suggested that the regulatory enforcement ought to be undertaken in “a manner that factors in the fragilities inherent in the operations of many radio stations.

“The current revocation and sanctions regime appears to be monetizing the right to free expression and could be construed as an effort to exact retribution, particularly against stations that have traditionally been ideologically opposed to the current New Patriotic Party administration.

“We are at a loss as to how millions of Ghana Cedis can be imposed as fines on radio stations, failing which their authorisation will be revoked only to have them sold to other entities for GH¢ 30,000.

“This will only serve to worsen the precarious unemployment situation and add to the hardships Ghanaians are going through. In the light of the foregoing, we urge the NCA to, as a matter of urgency, suspend the on-going exercise and use dialogue and more flexible means to ensure compliance with relevant regulations. This, we believe, will avert a situation where monetary value is placed on the right to free expression with its attendant difficulties,” Alhaji Fuseini said.

Source: Daily Heritage

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