The Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Mr Sulemana Braimah, has indicated that there are inconsistencies with the National Communication Authority’s (NCA) database on authorised radio stations in Ghana.
Addressing the media on the issue in Accra on Wednesday, 24 September 2020, Mr Braimah expressed suspicion that some information was deliberately omitted from the data given to the Foundation by the NCA following its request to that effect in accordance with the Right to Information law.
This, he said, was because of the discrepancies that the MFWA identified.
“We did place a call to a senior official at the NCA, the Director for Consumer and Corporate Affairs, and we had a very simple question. The question was: we noticed that in your 2020 database, which is a list of all authorised FM stations as of June 2020, there are radio stations that have their first date of authorisation as way back as 2002 and the last date of authorisation renewal is blank.
“We also see that some of the stations, maybe, first authorisation, 2002; and last date of authorisation is indicated as 2020, which means that the document has been updated as recently as 2020,” he said.
“So, if we find that some of the stations have blanks in the spaces that you’re supposed to indicate the last date of authorisation renewal, how should we interpret it?
“Should we take it to mean that those stations have not renewed?
“And if they have not renewed and we have presented them as authorised FM stations, why have they not been shut down just as the others have been shut down?” Mr Braimah asked.
He, therefore, intimated that in an attempt to get clarification on the questions raised, the MFWA wrote formally to the NCA, adding that: “To our surprise, the following week, the NCA decided to change how they presented the data and what they did was to remove the two dates that will raise questions about any discrimination or any discrepancies in the way they present the data”.
“I believe that if you compare this with the earlier table we showed you, you will realise that the two columns have been taken off and, of course, without those two dates, no one can raise any questions about why some stations have no indications while others have,” he noted.
The MFWA wrote to the NCA requesting information under Article 12 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and section 18 of the Right to Information Act 2019 (Act 989).
The letter, signed by Mr Braimah and dated Wednesday, 22 July 2020, requested “the full list of all authorised FM stations as of the second quarter of 2020, indicating the dates of first authorisation, dates of last authorisation renewals, locations, and operational status (on-air or off-air).”
The MFWA also requested “the full list of all authorised television stations as of the second quarter of 2020, indicating dates of first authorisation, dates of last authorisation renewals, locations and operational status.”
Additionally, the MFWA demanded “an explanation for the recent replacement of your published 2020 second-quarter report titled: “List of authorised VHF-FM Radio Stations in Ghana as at Second-Quarter 2020” which contained columns of date of first authorisation and date for last authorisation renewal, with one that excludes the dates of first authorisation and dates of first authorisation renewals.”
The letter also requested “the full list (name of the company, name of the radio station, location and frequency number) of all FM radio stations that were shut down following the 2017 FM spectrum audit and in line with the 2018 decision of the Electronic Communication Tribunal.”
In response to the MFWA’s letter, NCA demanded a sum of GHS2000 in order to have access to information the Foundation requested.
In a letter written back to the MFWA dated 20 August 2020, the NCA explained that the payment satisfies a requirement per Section 82 (1) (b) of the Electronic Communication Act 2008, Act 775 to facilitate the generation of the search report.