License fee not to better content; GBC only acting as tax collectors for GRA

Source: Ghana|
Date: 3rd-january-2018 Time:  8:37:55 pm

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Ghana Broadcasting Corporation has rejected claims that the controversial TV license fees being collected will be used for improving content.

Director-General in charge of Legal Services John Kwame Wajah insisted that the collection of the fee is basically for owning a TV set as set out in the amended TV licensing Act 1966 (NLCD 89).

"It is the is is not a fee to enable GBC to run its programs," he said.

The legal practitioner said GBC is only acting in the stead of Ghana Revenue Authority which collects taxes and levies.

Ridicule and anger underpin social media trolling of the state broadcaster's determination to collect the 36 cedis annual fee

Ghanaians have questioned the quality of content and services offered by GTV to justify the collection of what they have described as 'easy money'.

TV License sample

Many say they want to see GTV compete for adverts and revenue as private broadcasters do in exchange for superior content.

But the lawyer said GBC lodges the money in an account which belongs to the government.

"It doesn't come directly to GBC", he said but admitted GBC can access those funds. His explanation is a contradicts what a former Director General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), William Ampem Darko had said.

Mr. Ampem Darko opined GBC risks collapse if license fees are not collected. This is because the state broadcaster is in poor financial health and needs capital injection afforded by the license fees.

Last year, its Kumasi regional office had its power cut over a 1.7million cedi debt to Electricity Company of Ghana.

But the head of GBC's legal services maintained the fee is not about making GBC competitive.

"Those who are going around thinking that the law has created some pool of funds for GBC to do whatever they want...that apprehension is unfounded" John Kwame Wajah maintained.

A TV license court has been set up by the Chief Justice to deal with defaulters following a request by Director General of the state broadcaster,  Kwame Akuffo Anoff-Ntow.

The special court is expected to sit on Thursday for the first time.

The court is to ensure compliance with the amended TV licensing Act 1966 (NLCD 89) which directed that;

“a person shall not install or use a Television receiving set unless there is an existence in relation to that set a valid television receiving set license by the licensing authority under this Act.”

The Act also directs that “a person shall not carry on the business of selling, hiring or otherwise disposing of a television receiving sets or of repairing television sets unless that person holds a valid dealers’ license, granted by the licensing authority in relation to the respective business.

But opposition to the payment of the license has been growing with many describing the fund-raising plan as archaic.

Private broadcasters have urged the government to use public education to encourage the payment of TV license fee instead of resorting to courts.

"If you have too many people taken to court then you have something wrong with the system", the President of the Ghana Independent Association Andrew Danso Anninkora told Joy News.

The struggling state broadcaster has seen advertising revenue go to private media outlets seen as aggressive and sensitive to consumer needs.

While the Ghana Independent Association would not condemn the use of the courts, the president wants to see GBC court public understanding of the fund-raising plan.

"Why should people offend the law if they know what is right?" Andrew Danso Anninkora said.

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