An Accra High Court presided over by Justice Gifty Adjei Addo has ordered the National Communication Authority (NCA) to provide civil society group Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) the full list and details of all radio and television stations that have been shut down following the 2017 FM spectrum audit.
The names of the company, their location and frequency must all be captured in the list, the court said.
MFWA went to court on the matter seeking the following reliefs.
- A declaration that the decision and demand by Respondent contained in its letters dated July 29, 2020, and August 20, 2020, complained about are unlawful, unreasonable, unfair, and in violation of Applicant’s constitutional and fundamental right to access information.
- A declaration that the amount of ¢2,000 demanded by Respondent from the applicant in order to generate the information constitutes constructive denial, refusal, failure or neglect, and breach of Applicant’s right to information under Article 21(1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana
- A declaration that the amount demanded is not only unlawful but unconscionably exorbitant in breach of the letter and spirit of Act 989 and Applicant’s fundamental rights to information
- A declaration that the information requested by the Applicant is not subjected to a charge/fee; or in the alternative,
- A declaration that if Applicant were liable to a charge/fee, the same ought to be an ascertainable amount to cover the actual cost of reproduction or photocopy of the information sought only.
The court granted three of the five reliefs.
It also ordered the NCA to charge MFWA GHS1,500 instead of GHS2,000 for the information it requested under the Right to Information law.
The MFWA wrote to the NCA requesting information under Article 12 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and section 18 of the Right to Information Act 2019 (Act 989).
The letter, signed by Mr Braimah and dated Wednesday, 22 July 2020, requested “the full list of all authorised FM stations as of the second quarter of 2020, indicating the dates of first authorisation, dates of last authorisation renewals, locations, and operational status (on-air or off-air).”
The MFWA also requested “the full list of all authorised television stations as of the second quarter of 2020, indicating dates of first authorisation, dates of last authorisation renewals, locations and operational status.”
Additionally, the MFWA demanded “an explanation for the recent replacement of your published 2020 second-quarter report titled: “List of authorised VHF-FM Radio Stations in Ghana as at Second-Quarter 2020” which contained columns of date of first authorisation and date for last authorisation renewal, with one that excludes the dates of first authorisation and dates of first authorisation renewals.”
The letter also requested “the full list (name of the company, name of the radio station, location and frequency number) of all FM radio stations that were shut down following the 2017 FM spectrum audit and in line with the 2018 decision of the Electronic Communication Tribunal.”
The National Communication Authority (NCA) subsequently asked the MFWA to pay a sum of GHS2,000 in order to have access to the information the Foundation requested.
In a letter written back to the MFWA dated, 20 August 2020, the NCA explained that the payment satisfies a requirement per Section 82 (1) (b) of the Electronic Communication Act 2008, Act 775 to facilitate the generation of the search report.