There is fresh pressure from National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs against the implementation of a National Communications Authority (NCA) law passed under the former NDC government.
The implementation of Section 13 of the Electronics Communications Act (2009), Act 775 and Electronic Communications Regulations, 2011, LI 1991 could see as much as 131 radio stations closed down.
Some sanctions range from ¢ 160,000 to ¢ 61m for pro-NDC media outlet Radio Gold.
NDC MP for Tamale North, Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini, who worked as a broadcast journalist at Radio Gold compared the implementation of the sanctions to the implementation of the death penalty.
Suggesting that not all laws must be fully implemented, the NDC MP said no President has ever signed the death warrant although it is in the country’s law books.
He called the impending closure of the stations as an attempt to frustrate free speech which, he said, undermines the President’s known stance as a champion of media freedom.
The MP said unlike other dictatorial jurisdictions where a clampdown on media freedom is more overt, the NPP government is using a more subtle approach to stifle such freedoms under a “veneer of legality”.
He also suggested there is an element of political witch-hunting of critical radio stations although the Communications Minister Ursula Owusu -Ekuful is a founding Director of Accra-based Atlantis Radio which has also been slapped with a ¢60m fine.
Minority spokesperson on Communications and NDC MP for Sagnarigu Alhaji A.B.A Fuseini was profuse in his use of proverbs to make his case that NCA ought to dialogue with erring radio stations.
The closure of the stations, the largest ever clamp down is akin to ‘killing a mosquito with a sledgehammer”, he said.
Taking inspiration from political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu’s book Spirit of Laws, the NDC MP wants a human face in the implementation of the law.
Alhaji A.B.A Fuseini pleaded with government to focus on the spirit of the law passed and not the letter of the law.
He said NCA has in the past failed to live up to its responsibilities just as radio station managers have done same. In view of the failures of these two stakeholders, there needs to be engagement, not enforcement.
“When somebody releases bad air on you and you are over-zealous to retaliate you will bring out the real thing”, he got some MPs laughing despite the tense atmosphere.
Churning out more proverbs to back his call for more engagement, the legislator said; ‘If you renege on your responsibilities as a father, gathering them one day to offer advice will not make up for failing to be a wise father’.
He said it is unfair to impose ¢61 million fine on a radio station whose spectrum when confiscated will be sold for ¢30,000.
Joining in approval, Ketu South NDC MP Fifi Fiavi Kwetey pointing to his head added his voice to the argument.
“Can you imagine? Does that make sense”, the NDC MP who was once a regular panelist on Radio Gold said.
Story by Ghana|myjoyonline.com