NCA’s 45km maximum coverage radius for commercial FM stations lawful, says Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal says the NCA acted justly and within its mandate when it reclassified the maximum coverage radius for FM stations

A three-member Court of Appeal panel presided over by Justice Henry Kwofie, has unanimously upheld the 13th of June 2019, High Court decision that, the National Communications Authority (NCA) acted justly and within its mandate when it reclassified the maximum radius within which Commercial FM stations in Ghana should operate from 100km to 45km.

The other members of the Court of Appeal panel were Justice Richard Adjei-Frimpong and Justice Amma Abuakwaa Gaisie.

Multimedia Group Limited and Bell Communications Limited, operators of Joy FM and Asempa FM respectively had sought for a judicial review of the NCA’s directive, challenging the decision to reduce the coverage and describing the Authority’s actions as unreasonable, unfair and wrongful.

The High Court, in its ruling in refusing the application to quash the directives of the NCA stated that it agreed with the respondent (the NCA) that the NCA has the mandate to deal with the issue of the reduction of coverage radius of FM stations.

Court of Appeal

Dissatisfied with the decision of the High Court, Multimedia Group Limited and Bell Communications Limited, proceeded to the Court of Appeal to challenge same.

However, the Court of Appeal today 21st October 2021, unanimously ruled in favour of the NCA’s FM Coverage Reclassification Policy. The Court of Appeal held that the NCA undertook sufficient prior consultation and is legally justifiable in implementing the Policy. The Court of Appeal awarded cost of five thousand Ghana cedis (GHc 5,000.00) in favour of NCA.

A Press Release issued by the NCA confirming the Court of Appeal decision

Rational of FM CRP

The NCA in 2012 reduced the coverage radius of commercial FM stations from the previous 100km radius to 45km. This has resulted in commercial stations across the country reducing their coverages in line with the Authority’s directive.

The directive was to shave off part of the existing spectrum to create room and to assign to other applicants who wish to operate FM stations in Ghana. The action the NCA explained at the time that it was to enhance media pluralism in Ghana.

All Urban FM stations in the country are currently mandated to operate within the 45km radius. Rural based stations however operate within a 25km radius.

Wilberforce Asare

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