Okay FM, Hello FM off-air after NCA crackdown

Accra-based Okay FM and Kumasi-based Hello FM, both under the Despite group, have been shut down by the National Communications Authority (NCA), after their licenses were revoked.

They had defaulted in making payments for license fees, and were said to have been operating illegally according to a statement from the NCA in September 2017.

The 30 day-window given to the stations to respond to the notice has elapsed.

Their managers have however disclosed to Citi News they are working to get back on air.

Okay FM and Hello FM were among the 131 stations that fell foul of Section 13 of the Electronics Communications Act (2009).

34 of the sanctioned stations had their licenses revoked because their authorizations had expired, and were operating illegally, whilst the others picked up over GHc1 billion in fines.

Radio Gold and Atlantis Radio picked up the heftiest fines of GHc 61,330,000 and GHc 60,350,000 respectively.

The sanctions have been criticized as being too harsh, with critics claiming that they amount to an attempt to monetize freedom of expression.

Critics like the National Democratic Congress (NCA) minority in Parliament, have cited the potential job losses that would result from the possible shutdowns of sanctioned stations.

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), had served notice it was going to rally to the defense of the sanctioned stations, but they are yet to take any concrete decisions in this regard.

Breakdown of 97 sanctioned stations

According to the NCA, eleven (11) radio stations have been requested to pay application fees for renewal of Authorisation, and also pay a fine in accordance with the NCA’s gazettet Schedule of Penalties for failure to apply 3 months before the expiry of Authorization within 30 days.

Two (2) radio stations have been asked to submit renewal application within 30 days.

Sixteen (16) radio stations have been asked to submit renewal application, pay application fees, and pay a fine in accordance with the Authority’s gazetted Schedule of Penalties within 30 days.

Twenty? four (24) radio stations have been asked to submit omitted documents and pay a fine in accordance with the Authority’s gazetted Schedule of Penalties within 30 days.

Fifteen (15) radio stations will have their Authorisation processed after payment of fines in accordance with the Authority’s gazetted Schedule of Penalties.

One (1) radio station has been asked to settle its outstanding indebtedness before renewal of Authorization is considered.

Twenty (20) radio stations have been asked to settle their Provisional Authorization (renewal) fees which have been invalidated due to nonpayment within sixty days – to pay interest on due amount.

Eight (8) radio stations have been asked to pay a fine in accordance with the NCA’s gazette Schedule of Penalties before the authority conducts inspection as requested by the stations.

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