The sudden U-turn of the Akufo Addo administration by its decision to reverse the controversial close-down of radio stations linked to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), has raised eyebrows about a possible gentleman’s agreement.
The suspicion is because for almost five years, the adamant Akufo Addo administration which claimed the radio stations breached their license conditions had refused to budge to pressure, pleadings and criticisms of what was seen as a political hammer-fall.
In total, some 133 radio stations, including the vociferous Radio Gold and Radio XYZ, all linked to the NDC were given a clean slate by the National Communications Authority (NCA) on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.
Whatsup News is gathering from sources that some high-profile individuals from the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and some NDC elements with interests in the banned radio stations may have reached a secret agreement which has a lot to do with the 2024 general elections.
Whatsup News is, however, unable to verify the specifics of this claim.
The National Communications Authority (NCA) on Tuesday announced that it has decided to hand back the licenses of the stations, together with some new ones, but that as a pre-condition for getting the licenses, the station owners must compulsorily attend a workshop by the NCA.
But aside from the prescribed precondition to attend the workshop, the NCA refused to present any solid basis for its change of heart, given the fact that the grounds to which stations like Radio Gold and Radio XYZ were closed down in Rambo style was that they had for many years, refused to renew their licenses as required by regulations.
It is unclear whether the affected stations had finally met the so-called license requirements.
“The Governing Board of the National Communications Authority (NCA), at a Board meeting held on 11th October 2021, approved the grant of a total of One Hundred and Thirty-Three (133) FM radio broadcasting authorisations which include new applications from entities whose FM radio stations were closed down after the 2017 FM Audit as well as existing stations which applied for renewal of their expired FM Radio broadcasting authorisations,” the NCA statement read.
“This approval from the Board is subject to the applicants attending a sensitisation workshop on the terms and conditions of FM radio broadcasting authorisations. The workshop shall clarify the legal, regulatory, and technical requirements for the establishment and operation of an FM Radio Broadcasting station.”
The NCA’s statement, dated October 12th, 2021, said it will use the workshop to issue provisional authorisations, so that those who do not attend the workshop will automatically forfeit the authorizations on offer.
“Provisional authorizations shall be issued to the successful applicants at the end of the workshop and frequencies shall be assigned to the applicants only upon the fulfillment of the conditions of the Provisional Authorization,” the statement said.
In 2017, the Akufo-Addo government set out on what has been widely interpreted as a witch-hunt against perceived pro-NDC radio stations. These stations were taken off the air like criminal organizations by Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu Ekuful.
Accra-based Radio Gold had presenters on-air presenting show when NCA officials, accompanied by gun-toting National security operatives stormed there and ordered the station to close down. Later radio gold would be taken off the air.
Later, the same treatment would be meted out to radio XYZ.
Following the closures, Ursula Owusu Ekuful, defied every appeal, including one from Parliament, to allow the stations back online.
Many people believed the whole clampdown had had radio Gold and XYZ as primary targets because of their so-called perceived alignment to the opposition NDC.