The National Communications Authority (NCA) has denied allegations attributed to former President and NDC flagbearer John Dramani Mahama that the NCA might shut down the internet on Election Day, December 7, 2020.
It also debunked an accusation by a former deputy communications minister, Ato Sarpong that it deliberately took Abusua FM off air just before an interview with the NDC flagbearer; plus another allegation that the recent interruption of a corruption related documentary broadcast on Joy News TV was caused by the NCA.
The Communications industry regulator said all three allegations are “wholly false” because it does not have the access or ‘keys’ to jam online broadcast, neither does it have the ability to jam an on-air broadcast unless it has followed the provisions of Electronic Communications Act to effect a legal shutdown.
The NCA said, on the contrary, it rather assists its licensees to perform better.
Below is the full statement.
NCA REJECTS ALLEGATIONS OF BROADCASTING AND INTERNET INTERFERENCE
Accra, 23rd November, 2020: The National Communications Authority (NCA) has taken note of remarks on the online news portal Ghanaweb, dated 22nd November, 2020, and attributed to former President John Mahama in which he claims the NCA might shut down the Internet on Election Day, 7th December, 2020. The NCA hereby advises Ghanaians to disregard the remarks as completely unfounded.
A second misleading publication on Ghanaweb, dated 12th November, 2020, was attributed to a former Deputy Communication Minister under the headline: “Ato Sarpong Blasts NCA for Taking Abusua FM Off Air before Mahama Interview”. Mr. Sarpong’s accusation is also wholly false.
Finally, a break in transmission of a documentary by Accra-based station, Joy FM, which was, apparently, experienced on multiple digital platforms on the night of 18th November, 2020, was also erroneously attributed by some to deliberate interference by the NCA.
Interference with Internet Communications
As part of its mandate, the NCA has licensed several categories of service providers to deliver Internet connectivity to Ghana. They include Internet Service Providers, Broadband Wireless Access Service Providers and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). There are also multiple international undersea fibre optic cables and several satellite systems which provide Ghana with access to the Internet. The NCA does not have access or “keys” to any of these networks, and therefore cannot remotely shut the internet down. To block Internet or restrict access to a particular website, all submarine cable companies, MNOs and other service providers would have to agree to do so.
The Authority has not directed any of its licensees to shut the Internet down on Election Day as claimed in the news report, and there is no intention to do so.
Interferences with Broadcasting Signals
The NCA does not have the capability to block, jam or interfere with broadcasting signals. As a telecommunications and broadcasting regulator, and in line with global best practice, the NCA has frequency spectrum monitoring equipment whose ability is limited to receiving signals and detecting their source, but not to jam them.
Where necessary, Section 13 of ECA, 2008, Act 775 provides the basis and procedure for shutting down a radio communication service provider. The NCA serves notices and subsequently physically closes the facilities down and then monitors thereafter for compliance.
The NCA does not interfere in the work of its broadcasting and Internet Service Licensees. On the contrary, the NCA assists them to promptly resolve cases of interference when they arise. Licensees are therefore advised to report outages or cases of interference to the NCA for prompt investigation and resolution, and not misinform their audiences and clients.
The National Communications Authority, (NCA), was established by an Act of Parliament, Act 524 in December 1996, which has been repealed and replaced by the National Communications Authority Act, 2008 (Act 769). The Authority is the statutory body mandated to license and to regulate electronic communication activities and services in the country.