The National Communications Authority (NCA) has, with immediate effect, begun a shutdown operation of radio stations operating without valid authorisations as determined by the 2017 FM Broadcasting Audit.
In a statement issued by the NCA on Thursday, May 9, 2019, the Authority revealed that the shutdown is an enforcement action in line with the decision of the Electronic Communications Tribunal (ECT).
“Following the FM Spectrum Audit in 2017, some stations were found to be in default and were fined by the Authority. However, some of the stations in default were not satisfied and proceeded to the various courts; ECT and the High Court to appeal against the NCA’s decision,” the statement said.
“This resulted in a decision by the ECT in 2018 which reviewed the status of expired FM Radio Broadcasting Authorisations and which ruled among others that companies whose authorisations had expired reverted to the same position as a fresh applicant. While some stations shutdown following this decision, others did not,” the statement added.
To the NCA, the action to close down those stations is backed by law because no station could operate on a frequency when in debt.
“To this end, and in line with Regulations 65 (1) of the Electronic Communications Regulations, 2011, L. I. 1991, which states that ‘a person shall not use a radio frequency without authorisation from the authority’ the NCA is enforcing the shutdown of FM radio stations that are operating without authorisation.
“It should be noted that, as ruled by the ECT, submission of renewal application after expiry of authorisation is not a valid application and therefore shall not be considered by the Authority.
“The Authority takes this opportunity to encourage all licence and authorisation holders to ensure compliance with the various terms of their licences and authorisations, and as well the relevant regulation in compliance with the ruling of ECT.
“While companies affected by this shutdown may submit fresh applications to the Authority if they so wish, these applications shall go through the required procedure for new FM Broadcasting Authorisation and the outcome will be communicated to the applicants.
“The general public is also informed that entities are only authorised to use frequencies for a specific duration or period. Frequencies are national assets and not the property of users as they are not assigned to users in perpetuity,” the statement added.