…To help raise money to clear NPP’s GHc₵61m fine
Accra-based Radio Gold, flagship of the Network Broadcasting Company Limited, yesterday launched a fund in attempt to raise money to settle the stupendous Ghc61million fine that the National Communications Authority (NCA) has slapped on it.
On yesterday’s edition of the station’s popular morning show, Gold Power Drive, anchors, Sammy Eshun and Henry Agbai, launched the “Save Radio Gold Fund,” asking listeners and fans to contribute towards raising the GHc61million that the NCA is demanding.
The response from the listeners had been immediate with many calling in to the station to pledge various contributions.
As part of the launch, listeners had been told of a special purpose bank account that the station has opened with the SGSSB to collect contributions. The account name Network Broadcasting Company Limited, has as number 012010031404.
Two mobile numbers – 0558622074 and 0244993277 – were also announced by the team as having been activated as mobile money platforms to collect contributions.
Yesterday, Mr. Agbai had announced that cash pooled up to that point was some Ghc31,000.
Radio Gold, an Accra-based frequency modulation broadcaster, which is seen as a fierce but authentic critic of the NPP government, was named in a list of 131 radio stations that, according the NCA, had infringed on broadcasting laws.
On account of the alleged infractions, the station has been fined the ridiculous Ghc61million (610 billion old cedis) by the NCA, to be paid within a few days or have its 90.5 frequency shut down.
Interestingly, the infractions that the station is said to have committed have nothing to do with default on the payment of any levies or even renewal of the station’s licence, as the station’s broadcasting licence had been renewed last year. The penalty has arisen because of the station’s supposed default on the presentation of full documentation during licence renewal.
In what is seen as a draconian move, the application of penalty points has been retrospective with the NPP government counting the station’s supposed default days from as far back as 2000 and impinging a fine of Ghc10, 000 on every day within the timeframe – a total of 6,000 days.
Since the emergence of the fine, it has not been lost on observers that the NPP government had cast the net in an attempt to shut down Radio Gold and its sister station, Montie, which is already down.
Most of the other stations on the list of 131 defaulters are seen as decoys that the NPP government is using to create the illusory impression that it is not only the so-called pro-NDC Radio Gold and Montie that are targets.
Yesterday, information had emerged that some of the radio stations on the list of the 131 had secretly been invited by the NCA and given the opportunity to regularize their licenses.
Mr. Agbai had also reiterated that when the NCA initially wrote to Radio Gold to communicate the decision to sanction it, the amount that had been quoted was Ghc31million. However, the same NCA has since stated publicly that the amount involved is Ghc61million.
Again, upon communication of the sanction to the station on the 28th of September, lawyers of the station had written to reply the NCA, but the NCA had not written back until last Thursday.
As many Ghanaians watch in shock while the NPP government seemingly employs every dirty trick in the book to try to shut down Radio Gold and Montie, the whole assault on press freedom has invoked a throwback to similar attempts in the past.
In 2001, immediately the NPP assumed power for the first time, attempts were made to shut down Radio Gold, whose ‘Alhaji and Alhaji’ talk-show is rated the best in the whole country.
According to Mr. Agbai, in 2008, Gold’s 90.5 frequency was surreptitiously allocated to a telecom company in attempt to shut it down.
Again, during the 2008 elections, the NPP government had sent soldiers to invade Radio Gold during the run-off, but supporters of NDC who had heard about the move had trooped to the station in preparation to face the soldiers. The soldiers had eventually been called off.
It is eight years down the line after those militaristic moves against Radio Gold and the attempt has arisen again, this time with Nana Akufo-Addo, a supposed champion of human rights and press freedom, as President.
The Akufo-Addo government, which has adopted a financial muscle approach is asking Radio Gold to cough up an outrageous Ghc61million (610 billion old cedis) in fines, apparently hoping that the burdensome fine will force the station to shut down.
Interestingly, the NCA, which is attempting to shut down Radio Gold, is chaired by a former journalist, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, previously of the BBC.
Members of the Board of the NCA also include Paul Adom Otchere, a former broadcaster with Radio Gold, who had used the station as a learning curve.
Gold, one of the oldest private FM stations in Ghana, served as boot camp for many of Ghana’s best broadcast journalists of today, including Peace FM’s Kwame Sefa-Kayi.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Fiifi Samuels