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General News of Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Source: citifmonline.com

GBC boss asked to go on leave over TV License confusion

The governing board of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) has asked the Director-General of the Corporation, Dr. Akuffo Annor-Ntow to proceed on leave with immediate effect.

The directive according to the Board Chairman of GBC, Reverend Professor Emmanuel Addo-Obeng, was agreed upon on Monday, January 15, 2018.

He explained in an interview on Radio Ghana that the decision follows the Director-General’s handling of the TV license issue.

He said the National Media Commission, has been duly notified of the directive.

Dr. Annor-Ntow had come under fire for getting the Chief Justice to set up some 11 courts nationwide to prosecute defaulters of TV license fees.

The expected prosecution of defaulters was subsequently suspended following an earlier directive by the GBC board.

When asked how long the Director General is supposed to be on leave, Professor Addo-Obeng said “All this will depend on consultation with NMC.”

“We are going to immediately engage NMC to discuss a whole lot of issues affecting GBC and the future of the state broadcaster,”he added.

According to the GBC Board Chairman, one board member and two directors of the GBC are supposed to steer the affairs of the state broadcaster until the issues are ironed out.

“We have put an interim management committee in place with a board member and two directors of GBC to hold the fort while this consultation goes on,” he added.

Divisional Union Chairman of GBC, Michael Allotey, who also spoke on Radio Ghana’s Behind the News programme seemed unhappy with the directive by the board but called for calm.

“As a Union we need to engage our people urging them to take it calm because it is a board decision but we will meet properly to tell the world our position. I also take this opportunity to urge workers to remain calm.”

“Except that sometimes it is challenging because the question is after DG what next? GBC has a problem and it has to be solved. I think it is time the nation decides what to do with the national broadcaster. It is either they keep it as a private entity or we continue to keep on the focus as a national broadcaster,” he added.

Concerns over the TV license regime followed the Chief Justice’s setting up of special TV license courts across the country to prosecute people who refuse to pay the mandatory TV license fees in line with the TV licensing Act.

Domestic TV users are to pay between GHc36 and GHc60 for one or more TV sets in a household, while TV set repairers and sales outlets are to pay an annual sum of between GHc60 to GHc240.

Following the setting up of the special court, it was expected that defaulting TV owners or operators will be prosecuted per Section 1(a) of the TV licensing Act 1966 (NLCD 89) with defaulters facing a fine or a prison term not exceeding one year.

But a statement from the Board stopped the prosecution even before they occurred.

The board also urged the National Media Commission (NMC) to explore a more sustainable funding module for the GBC.

During the back and forth, the GBC Director angered the public further when he suggested that persons who consumed TV content via smart phones were also going to pay the license fees.

Several pressure groups and civil society organisations kicked against the TV license regime, particularly the threat to use the court to ensure compliance.

In the midst of the arguments however, some individuals thronged GBC Revenue collection points to pay the fees.