RIP Van Winkle NCA


It has been the expectations of many Ghanaians, since President Obama advised that we build strong institutions instead of strong men, that our institutions, especially the regulatory bodies, will be strong but are failing the people.

We have a very strong institution like the National Communications Authority (NCA) that is clothed with power to regulate the telecommunications companies but alas, the NCA has turned a blind eye to the complaints of the public about line drops and other poor network services.

These mobile companies keep adjusting the rates for their services without the commensurate improvement in the services.

Customers keep receiving messages on their phones informing them of all kinds of products that hardly meet their expectations.

It is for the reason of helping customers to get value for money that the law sets up regulatory bodies to intervene on behalf of customers in the event of the delivery of poor services but in the case of Ghana, the regulatory bodies have gone to sleep.

Sadly, for consumers, it is the fact that these regulatory bodies are being paid from the public purse but they are not serving us. The NCA has relapsed into a deep sleep while MTN, arguably the biggest mobile phone service provider, is only interested in profit but not the satisfaction of consumers.

While MTN takes delight in expanding its services and carries its slogan, “MTN, everywhere you go” like a badge of honour, it does not respond to customer complaints with the same zeal.

I think NCA has forgotten its obligations to hold MTN, Telecel and Airtel/Tigo to account. The people of Ghana are saying through this platform to the NCA to leave up to expectations so that it is not satisfied with the issuance of licences.

The NCA has not been able to manage the spectrum for the telecommunications companies, yet the law mandates the NCA to grant licences to radio and television networks. During the last count Ghana can boast of more than 500 radio stations and scores of television networks.

There is this suggestion that the NCA cedes the granting of spectrum for broadcasting to the National Media Commission (NMC). The NMC has not been able to manage its present mandate very satisfactorily for certain people to advocate additional responsibility for the Commission.

My elementary know in scriptures is that God said he who is able to discharge his duties more diligently, more tasks would be given to such a person.

To my mind, the NMC has not been able to account for the little that has been mandated it by the 1992 Constitution to the extent that some are asking that the MMC be tasked with the responsibility to grant the spectrum for broadcasting so that it can ensure the highest journalistic standards.

In the absence of a broadcasting law, the space beyond the spectrum is free for all. It is like the country has put the cart before the horse. Anybody who thinks am making ugly noises should tune into radio and television to see whether the content meets our values.

Maybe, as a country we do not have values and for which reason there is no standard to measure merit. Our airwaves are inundated with insults and disrespect for authority.

We can even insult our President, the soul of the nation, on account of ideological disagreements. Sometimes visitors to our country wonder whether we are in the jungle where no laws apply and the fittest can dictate to the vulnerable in our society.

In the so-called western world where respect for democratic principles and values, some of the outburst on radio and television in Ghana are not protected under any free speech legislation.

What we have witnessed so far is some token determinations made by the NMC following complaints from members of the public.

Thus today, media tyranny, impunity and disrespect for ethical standards reign on our media space.

And that is why till date nobody has been able to call Oyerepa TV in Kumasi for turning its studios into a court. If people are dissatisfied with the justice system, it does not mean we can replace with a kangaroo forum where the rule of law does not apply.

Auntie Naa who hosts that programme has no mandate under the law to continue summoning perceived offenders to the studios of Oyerepa TV to be interrogated.

It is outrageously wrong and the NMC is called upon to act fast to stop Oyerepa TV from crossing the line. Other radio stations and television stations are involved in similar endeavours and Ghanaians expect the NMC to keep the radio, television stations, newspapers and online portals’ contents very wholesome and in the public interest.

Our elders say that the bird has resolved that so long as the hunters have made it a point to fire without missing their targets, it would also fly without perching. So am resolved today, that so long as the regulatory bodies, such as NCA and NMC as well as the PURC have closed their eyes to poor service delivery, this platform would keep reminding them of the unsatisfactory services. Ghanaians know of a body like the Consumer Protection Agency but it appears Kofi Kapito is also on the side of big business.  However, we will not relent until the services and products meet our expectations.