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General News of Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Source: Kasapa FM

Supreme Court dismisses GIBA case against NCA

A seven-member panel of the Supreme Court presided over by Chief Justice Kwesi Anin Yeboah has dismissed the case in which the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) has dragged the National Communications Authority (NCA) and Attorney General (AG) to court.

The unanimous decision of the apex court read by Justice Sule Gbadegbe and affirmed by the apex court said the applicant did not properly invoke the original jurisdiction of the apex court.

The panel which also includes Justice Jones Dotse, Justice Samuel Marfu-Sau, Justice Prof Nii Ashie Kotey, and Nene Amegatse dismissed the application.

GIBA early this year sued the NCA and the AG’s Department over the NCA’s decision to introduce conditional access to free-to-air TV broadcast as a breach of the right to free press enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.

Background

In a writ filed, GIBA demanded a number of reliefs including that the Conditional Access (CA) System introduced as a mandatory requirement by the NCA by which media content of free-to-air broadcasters are blocked by the government unless certain criteria have been met, constitutes an unnecessary restraint on the establishment and operation of private media as enshrine

It also seeks a declaration that the blockage of media contents of free-to-air broadcasters through the use of the Conditional Access System introduced by the NCA is unconstitutional as same constitutes an unreasonable and unnecessary abridgment of the freedom of the media contained in Article 21(a) and 162 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.

Another relief also seeks a declaration that the blockage of media contents of free-to-air broadcasters through the use of the Conditional Access System to introduced by the NCA contravenes the spirit and letter of Article 21(f) of the 1992 Constitution since same constitutes an unnecessary abridgment of the right to information guaranteed under the Constitution.

GIBA also seeks an order directed at the NCA to remove from the Minimum Requirements for Reception of Digital Terrestrial and Satellite Television Services any system in the nature of Conditional Access that encrypts or blocks the contents of Free-To-Air television channels from being received.

NCA Conditional Access System

It is recalled that the Ministry of Communications, through its agency NCA, since 2017, has been attempting to implement dramatic changes to television broadcast sector with the introduction of systems of control (Conditional Access System – CAS) which GIBA frowned upon due to its ability to lock down the liberalized airwaves and send the nation back to the dark days of monopolized and controlled media.

For some time now, the GIBA and the Ministry of Communications have disagreed over the introduction of the Conditional Access System even after the Ghana Standards Authority has made it clear that, by the Standards the CAS cannot be said to be mandatory for free-to-air receivers.

Subsequently, GIBA welcomed the standards set by the Ghana Standards Authority and accused the Ministry of Communications of doctoring the Ghana Standards Authority document which instructed the broadcast industry to abide by the mandatory requirements for the reception of all TV programmes carried on the nation’s free-to-air digital broadcasting facility.

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