The National Communications Authority (NCA) has begun closing down radio stations operating without valid authorizations as determined by the 2017 FM Broadcasting Audit.
The closure, according to the Authority, is in line with the enforcement action as espoused by the decision of the Electronic Communications Tribunal (ECT).
According to the NCA, some stations were found to be in default during the FM Spectrum Audit in 2017.
Those stations according to NCA, were fined by the Authority.
“However, some of the stations in default were not satisfied and proceeded to the various courts; Electronic Communications Tribunal (ECT) and the High Court to appeal against the NCA’s decision. This resulted in a decision by the ECT in 2018 which reviewed the status of expired FM Radio Broadcasting Authorizations and which ruled among others that Companies whose authorizations had expired reverted to the same position as a fresh applicant,” the NCA stated.
According to the Authority, while some stations shut down following the decision, others did not, hence the Authority in line with Regulations 65 (1) of the Electronic Communications Regulations, 2011, L. I. 1991, is enforcing the shutdown of such FM radio stations.
Regulations 65 (1) of the Electronic Communications Regulations, 2011, L. I. 1991 states that, “A person shall not use a radio frequency without authorization from the Authority” the National Communications Authority (NCA).”
The Authority also explained that as ruled by the ECT, submission of renewal application after expiry of authorization is not a valid application and therefore shall not be considered by the Authority.
It also indicated that companies affected by the shut-down have the opportunity to submit fresh applications to the Authority if they so wish, and that their “applications shall go through the required procedure for new FM Broadcasting Authorization and the outcome will be communicated to the applicants.”
The NCA stressed the fact that frequencies are national assets and not the properties of users as they are not assigned to users in perpetuity, and therefore entities are only authorized to use frequencies for a specific duration or period.
“The Authority takes this opportunity to encourage all license and authorization holders to ensure compliance with the various terms of their licenses and authorizations, and as well the relevant regulations,” the Authority advised.
By PROSPER AGBENYEGA