GIBA floors NCA in court; members advised to pay authorization fee on time

 

The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) has advised radio stations to renew their authorization on time to avoid being penalized by the regulatory body, the National Commination Authority (NCA).

GIBA is also urging its members, especially managers of radio stations to respond quickly to communications from the NCA either through letter or emails.

Executive Secretary of GIBA, Mrs.Gloria Hadzi gave the advice in an interview with Zaa News after the Electronic Communications Tribunal ruled in favor of the association in the recent case of the NCA imposition of penalties against some radio stations.

The Electronic Communications Tribunal which was established by the Electronic Communications Act 2008 (Act 775) and guided by the National Communications Authority Act 2008 (Act 769), gave its unanimous ruling on the case filed by GIBA on behalf of its members.

The ruling was the Tribunal's first since its establishment.

The Tribunal unanimously ruled that the penalties imposed on affected members by the National Communications Authority’s pursuant to the Nationwide FM Broadcasting Audit were unlawful and proceeded to quash same.

The Tribunal held that there was no legal basis for the imposition of the penalties as prescribed in N (7) of the Schedule of Penalties and that there were other applicable sanctions that the NCA could have lawfully deployed but which it chose not to.

The tribunal grounded its ruling on four areas of appeal submitted at the Tribunal.

It said NCA erred when it penalized the affected members according to the Schedule of Penalties when those penalties were not applicable to the offences/breaches the radio stations were alleged to have committed.

The tribunal said that the NCA erred when it applied the Schedule of Penalties to punish the radio stations for their alleged offences/breaches when the applied portions of the said Schedule of Penalties are ultra vires the Electronic Communication Act, Act 775 and therefore void and of no effect.

That, the NCA erred when it sought to apply the penalties against the radio stations in a retrospective manner.

That the NCA erred when it imposed penalties on the radio stations without offering them the opportunity to remedy the alleged infractions as provided for under Act 755.

effect, the appeal on ground (a) was allowed while grounds (b), (c) and (d) were dismissed because as the Tribunal explained, events which occurred after the initial invocation of the penalties and after the appeal was lodged.

For example, the grant of the general amnesty in December 2017 by the NCA which included a change in the period within which the penalties were applied rendered those grounds moot.

The Tribunal further ruled that the imposition of the sanctions by the NCA without granting the “subject of the penalty an opportunity to make representations on its own behalf with regard to the penalties” prior to the levying of those penalties amounted to procedural impropriety and therefore proceeded to quash same.

In other words, prior to the levying of a penalty, the licensees should have been afforded an opportunity of defending itself against the imposition of the penalty either in writing, orally or through consultations.

Ms. Hadzi told Zaa News the tribunal ruling meant that radio station that were affected by the NCA audit was sanctioned on bases of penalty imposed but not because they did not pay renewal fee.

She explained that per the ruling any action by the NCA on renewal will go contrarily to the tribunal's ruling.

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