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TV licence law to be amended

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The government will soon present a new bill to Parliament to amend the Television Licensing Act – 1966 (NLCD 89) which established the licence fees. 

The amendment is expected to legalise the disbursement of licence fees collected among the key stakeholders, made up of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Ministry of Communications and the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA).

The Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr Ato Sarpong, who disclosed this to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in Accra, indicated that revising the law would provide an agreed sharing formula to ensure that all stakeholders in the broadcasting industry benefited from the funds generated.

“Presently the amendment process is far advanced so it means we will soon submit to Parliament the bill to revise Television Licensing Act – 1966 (NLCD 89)” he said.

Criticism

Owners and users of television sets across the country have opposed the collection of the TV licence fees since it was announced in August last year.

However, according to some of the users, they did not see the need to obtain the licences when they did not watch GTV or were not satisfied with the programmes of the national television station which was going to benefit largely from the fees.

Others also described the resumption of the TV licence as “unlawful”, “bogus”, “totally rubbish”, and a means for the management of the state-owned media to squander money given to them.

One such outbursts was made by the founder of Ghana’s first private radio station, Radio Eye, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, who dragged the GBC to court over claims that although the GBC had legislative backing under Section 10(c) of NLCD 226 to collect television licence fees from owners of television sets, it was not mandated by law to share the money with its stakeholders.

According to him “the GBC today does not qualify as a public broadcaster in any shape or form. It operates as a commercial broadcaster, charging advertising fees in competition with the private broadcasters who do not get licence fees”.

He argues further that “the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) does not qualify to be funded by public funds of any description, especially from a compulsory licence fee.”

Response

In response to claims made by the public, Mr Sarpong said the TV licence fee was not paid for viewing the company’s programmes but owning the television.

“The law is explicit. It is not when you switch your TV on that you are liable to pay the licence fee. It is the ownership of the TV set. It’s like owning a car; the moment your car arrives at the Tema Port you cannot drive it on the roads of Ghana without obtaining a temporary licence first”, he said.

Sharing formula

Details of the sharing formula for the TV Licence Fees to be collected are 72 per cent to GBC, four per cent to the National Media Commission (NMC), four per cent to the Media Development Fund, 15 per cent to the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), two per cent to the Film Fund and a further three per cent to the GBC for its management of the TV Licence Fees.

Following the submission of a proposal for the review of the TV licence fees to Parliament, the fees were reviewed upwards.

From August, last year, domestic TV users with one set pay GH¢36 for a licence annually, instead of the old fee of Gp30.

Those who use more than two TV sets will be required to pay GH¢60 for a licence every year.

Fees have also been reviewed upwards for commercial users such as hotels from GH¢2 to GH¢3 per month per TV set.

Licensed TV dealers such as repairers would pay GH¢5 per month, while retailers and sales outlets would pay GH¢20 per month as TV licence fee.

However, in spite of the constant devaluation and depreciation of the national currency, the fees had remained unchanged since 1991.

Eventually, the cost of collecting the fee became uneconomic and irrelevant and it was, therefore, suspended in 2010.

The Television Licensing Act – 1966 (NLCD 89) which established the licence fees and was amended in 1991 under the PNDC Law states that, “Except as otherwise prescribed, a person shall not install or use a television receiving set unless there is in existence in relation to that set a valid television receiving set licence granted by the licensing authority under this Act”.

Source: Graphic | Ghana

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