GIBA sues NCA - Newsfile Online

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Thursday, 30 January 2020



Mr Andrew Danso-Aninkora, President of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association
Mr Andrew Danso-Aninkora, President of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association

The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) has gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the National Communications Authority (NCA) to introduce conditional access for free-to-air (FTA) Television.

In a writ filed on January 28, 2020, GIBA argued that the decision by the NCA was an impediment to the establishment of private press and, therefore, a violation of Article 162 clause 3 of the 1992 Constitution.

Article 162 (3) stipulates that “There shall be no impediments to the establishment of private press or media.....”
Joined to the writ as defendants are the Attorney–General (A-G) and the NCA.
Conditional access
Recently, GIBA complained about the new standards on Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Direct-To-Home (DTH) published on the website of the NCA.
According to GIBA, the document published by the NCA had a new chapter, numbered 13, which contained Conditional Access and Middleware Applications and additional control features as minimum mandatory requirements, contradicting the original standards (document (GS1099: 2019) published by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), which is the statutory body mandated to do so.
The association contended that the standards amounted to attempts to implement dramatic changes in the television broadcast sector with the introduction of systems of control known as Conditional Access System (CAS).
Whereas the GSA standard made CAS non-mandatory for FTA television (TV) receivers, GIBA said the revision to the ‘legal’ standard by the Ministry of Communications made CAS a mandatory requirement for the reception of all TV programmes carried on the nation’s only FTA digital broadcasting facility. That requirement means that one needs to acquire a special decoder, with proprietary software, before watching any FTA TV programme in the country.
GIBA is of the view that the GSA standard must be adopted and used to regulate the operations of players in the broadcast space to ensure fairness to all.
GIBA is seeking to use the legal action to convince the Supreme Court to declare the new requirement by the NCA as a violation of Article 162 clause 3 and, therefore, unconstitutional.
It is also seeking a declaration that the conditional access system introduced by the NCA was an “unreasonable and unnecessary abridgement of the freedom of the media” and, therefore, unconstitutional.
GIBA further wants a declaration by the apex court that the action of the NCA was an infringement against the right to information as guaranteed under Article 21(f) of the 1992 Constitution.
Also, it wants an order from the court “directed at the NCA to remove any system in the nature of conditional access that encrypts or blocks the content of FTA television channels from being received.”

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