Opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Samuel Nartey George has accused government of an attempt to charge viewers for accessing content from free-to-air television networks.
According to the member of the Communications Committee in Parliament, the government through the National Communications Authority (NCA) wants to illegally and without basis impose the fee on Ghanaians.
A draft policy being pushed by the Communications Ministry and its regulating agency, the National Communications Authority, NCA, seeks to regulate broadcasters when the country fully migrates from analogue television broadcasting to a digital transmission platform.
But speaking on Citi FM, Sam George admonished the two institutions to be circumspect in their dealings over the matter in order not to deprive the ordinary television viewers of what is due them.
“With the conditional access, the government is saying that it will introduce a software that will block viewers from the contents of the free to air content sent to their homes unless they pay TV license fees. Now the government is using technology to block recipient from getting the [FTA networks]. This is in itself, a disservice to the service provider and that again is an infringement of the constitutional rights of viewers to access information, entertainment and education through the media. These are constitutional matters; so what the Ministry is doing is illegal. It was tried in other jurisdiction without success and so I don’t know why the ministry is treading on this path in the name of TV license.”
While warning that the decision by the NCA will cripple media owners within FTA space, he entreated government to among other things, find other innovative but legal mechanisms than these charges in the name of TV licenses.
“The 1992 constitution says that there should be no financial impediments in my way to access television. Even if they want to amend that act in conformity with the constitution to collect digital access or TV licenses fees, there are several nouvelle ways to do that. They don’t have to impose it. All they have to do is how CSP is introduced in the telecom sector or the streetlight light levy and petrol [taxes]. There are ingenious ways of collecting without contravening the provision in the constitution. If we make FTAs paid for, within a period of six months to one year, they will all collapse.”