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Bawku Radio Stations Closure: NCA Did the Right Thing the Wrong Way – MFWA

Mr Braimah expressed concern over the National Communication Authority (NCA) and the National Security Ministry, both of which are managed by individuals with political affiliations, exercising the power to sanction broadcast stations for their content.

The Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah, has intervened in the shutdown of four media outlets in Bawku, Upper East Region stating that the National Communications Authority (NCA) does not have the authority to enforce ethical and professional standards, and is not the appropriate entity to impose sanctions on media content.

“The NCA used the wrong approach to do the right thing. In other words, given what was happening in Bawku in terms of the radio stations and their role in the ongoing conflict there, any decision to shut down the stations is in the interest of the public,” Sulemana told Citi FM.

“However, given that we have laws governing the operation of the media, one would expect that the institutions are making decisions of this nature, they will follow due process which in this case doing so in consultation with the NMC or doing so based on a decision of the NMC.”

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Mr Braimah expressed concern over the National Communication Authority (NCA) and the National Security Ministry, both of which are managed by individuals with political affiliations, exercising the power to sanction broadcast stations for their content. He said it sets a dangerous precedent as it could be easily manipulated for government interests.

Further, he pointed out that the inefficiency of the National Media Commission (NMC) has contributed to the media’s problems.

The NMC is an independent government agency established with the primary mandate of ensuring the freedom and independence of the media and to encourage responsible practice as well as investigate, mediate and settle complaints made against the media.

Although the Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission (NMC), George Sarpong, stated that the radio stations had been warned about their actions concerning the conflict a few years ago, he was unable to clarify whether the National Communications Authority (NCA) had acted in consultation with the NMC or upon a directive from it.

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Meanwhile, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) stated in an interview with Citi News that although the affected radio stations are not members of the association, they plan to pursue the matter further.

In a press statement on February 24, the NCA shut down four radio stations in Bawku and the Upper East Region. The authority explains that the stations, Bawku FM, Source FM, Zahra FM, and Gumah FM, were shut due to recommendations of the Upper East Regional Security Council and on the advice of the Ministry of National Security alleging that the operations of the said stations are contributing to the escalation of the Bawku conflict.

In his State of the Nation Address on February 27, President Akufo-Addo also indicated that the closure of the radio stations was based on the recommendation of the Upper East Regional and National Security Councils for broadcasting incendiary language and propagating hate speech which have the tendency to breed conflict in the area.

It’s worth noting that this is not the first instance of the NCA shutting down a radio station. Just a few weeks ago, Salt FM in Agogo, located in the Asante Akyem North District of the Ashanti Region, was closed by the Authority because they failed to renew their operational license.

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