TV License Fees – Just in case you have been wondering what the fuss has been all about; a large section of Ghanaians are enraged by the GBC’s controversial TV License law mandating the collection of license fees from persons or households owning TV sets.
The collection of the fee which was reintroduced in 2015 requires that Domestic TV users pay between GH¢36 and GH¢60 for one or more TV sets in a household. TV set repairers and sales outlets are to pay an annual sum of between GHc60 to GHc240.
For Commercial TV operators, they are to pay GHc36 per annum for each TV set.
License Courts Set Up To Prosecute Offenders
For a successful implementation of this law, the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo recently set up a special TV License Court to handle cases of defaulters. The GBC had in the last two years since the re-introduction, appealed to Ghanaians to voluntarily make their payments.
But unsatisfied with the reluctant turn up as well as the outcome of events, the Judiciary decided to wade into the situation. The Chief Justice set up the special TV license courts to deal with people who refuse to pay the mandatory TV license fees in line with the TV licensing Act 1966 (NLCD 89).
The courts, numbering 11, are located across all the ten regions of the country, and are to sit every Thursday with effect from 4th January 2018.
TV License Fees – Reactions
The move to prosecute defaulters by law caused all hell to be let loose with massive mixed reactions from Ghanaians. Citizens of Ghana have since protested the implementation of the GBC’s order especially owing to the CJ’s move to prosecute defaulters.
The decision has courted huge public outcry with the majority declaring they will not pay. This adamance on the part of the people also drew the attention of some activist groups who attempted to intervene in the situation.
One of these groups; The Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), has described as needless the courts set up by the Chief Justice to hear cases regarding the non-payment of TV license fee.
According to the body, the CJ’s move to prosecute those who refuse to pay the mandatory TV license is against the freedom of choice and contradicts national values. A member of AFAG, Davis Opoku who spoke to Starr FM decried the compelling approach by government.
According to him, the country should rather deliberate on the essence or significance of the law to the growth of the nation and not make laws to prosecute people who refuse to pay.
Another group; OccupyGhana, also disagreed with the setting up of a special court to prosecute defaulters. Describing the law as obsolete, the pressure group in a press statement called for a repeal.
According to OccupyGhana, the country should be thinking of laws and policies that look into the future, and seek to create the enabling smart digital environment for prosperity and opportunities for all.
The group said that what is required “is not a forcible re-implementation of it, but a root-and-stem review that repeals the existing law and regime”
We’re Not Bent On Prosecuting Over TV License Fees – GBC
Meanwhile, the GBC has clarified that it is not out to prosecute anyone but is rather focused on educating Ghanaians to voluntarily pay the TV license fees.
According to the Director-General of the GBC, Dr. Akuffo Annor-Ntow, the prosecution of defaulters is not the corporation’s priority in the interim. The GBC he said does not prefer to punish offenders but see to the implementation of the law in more lenient ways.
This is because adopting a punitive posture would not be a sustainable way of handling the TV license issue.