The National Communications Authority (NCA) has automated the monitoring of the institutions it regulates to ensure effective and timely compliance with licensing obligations.
Director-General of NCA, Joe Anokye, who announced this at a two-day workshop for broadcasting authorization holders, saying the authority has invested heavily into Broadcasting Monitoring System and Spectrum Monitoring Tools and commenced automation of the spectrum management processes to ensure consistency, transparency and accountability
This comes after some 13 radio stations in the country, including very leading ones, were closed down during an audit in 2017 due to their failure to comply with their licensing obligations.
The affected stations were said to have defaulted in the payment of their licensing fees at the time.
Recently, the NCA restored the authorization of the 13 stations, renewed the authorizations of some 95 existing ones and granted authorizations to 25 completely new stations.
The workshop was therefore held to educate the authorization holders on their legal, regulatory and technical requirements and obligations.
Joe Anokye reminded the authorization holders that frequencies are national assets held in trust by the NCA and assigned to specific users for a period subject to specific conditions.
He said the frequencies are not assigned to users in perpetuity, adding that, it is therefore important that holders understood the terms and conditions of their authorization and comply with same.
“We do not want any Authorization Holder to claim ignorance of the conditions for operating the service,” he said. “As a matter of fact, it is unpleasant for us to suspend stations and revoke Authorisations, but we have a duty enforce the law”.
Director of Engineering, Rev. Edmund Fianko further explained the automated monitoring system, in a interview on an Accra TV station, saying that the monitors have been installed across the country to capture violations in real time and generate feedback.
He said the system automatically reports violations to the NCA and the respective operators are then given immediate feedback to fix the violation and prevent consequences.
According to him, with respect to licensing and authorization fees, the system automatically reminds operators five months ahead of the expiry of their licenses to start preparing for renewal, and it goes on to send further reminders until the last one is sent when it 15 days to the deadline.
“So if after all these reminders you fail to meet your licensing obligations then you would have no one to blame if the law is applied,” he said.
Rev. Fianko stated that, contrary to what many Ghanaians think, NCA does not regulate media content or programs, so it does not close down stations based on their programs. But when a station violate the technical and licensing obligation, NCA would move in and apply the necessary regulations.
He announced that soon NCA would also put out a list of TV stations, whose licenses have been renewed and those whose licenses have been restored after been closed down for various violation.
Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission (NMC), who is a board member of NCA, George Sarpong, spoke on broadcast content regulation, saying content must not condone violence and anti-social behavior, and should not encourage crime, racial or political tension.
The workshop was also used to remind authorization holders about their specific obligations under the Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775) and the Electronic Communications Regulations 2011 (L.I. 1991), as well the consequences for violating to those obligations, which include suspension of revocation of their authorization.
Subject areas of presentations at the workshop include:
• Understanding the legal and regulatory framework of FM Radio Broadcasting
• Timelines and requirements for installation and inspection checklist
• Test Transmission Authorisation
• Annual Regulatory Fee payment schedule and penalties for default
• Transmission parameters and coverage limits
• Renewal Guidelines and timelines
• Suspensions and Revocations of Authorisations
• Modifications and Amendments of Authorisations,