The Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Dr. Akuffo Annof-Ntow, has said the Police Service will help in the pursuit of persons who refuse to pay their TV licence fees.
This follows the setting up of a special TV Licence Court by the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, to deal with TV licence fee defaulters.
The courts, numbering 11, are located across all the ten regions of the country, and will sit every Thursday beginning sitting on 4th January 2018 from 8:30am to 4:00pm.
The licence, which was intensified in 2015 following years of failure, has been met with opposition from many users.
Some Ghanaians took to social media after the announcement expressing their reservations about the special court.
But speaking to Citi News, Dr. Annof-Ntow said the police involvement is to help forestall further challenges with the collection of the fees.
“We made a formal appeal not only to the court but also to the IGP because we anticipated that we were going to hit a snag and some people will deliberately refuse to pay. So from where we sit I’m delighted at the fact that the Chief Justice has granted our request. What it means therefore is that, this is an encouragement for everybody to go and pay the television licence.”
According to the GBC Director General, the special court should not be seen “as an opportunity to incarcerate people” but instead see it as a clear signal to everybody to make it a point to pay the television licence. The point is that, if you default, then the possibility exist that you will be hauled before the law, but you have the opportunity not to put yourself in that situation,” he added.
Also sharing his view on the matter, Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah, said the move is a test for GBC to prove its mettle or risk having the tax abolished.
“I think that it is just to ensure that the licensing regime is enforced, and once it’s a law, we must see it being applied and once it is applied and GBC is able to mobilize the needed resources, then we would also be looking at how the fees mobilized would impact GBC’s operations. And if at some point we think that despite the resources, we are still seeing the same GBC as we’ve seen now, I believe you will have the recourse to either ask that the law be scrapped or the tax regime be apologized,” he added.
Implications of Special TV licence court
Following the setting up of the special court, it is expected that recalcitrant TV owners or operators who previously were adamant about not paying the fee will be prosecuted.
According to Section 1(a) of the TV licensing Act 1966 (NLCD 89) as amended, “Any person who contravenes any provision of this law or regulation shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.”
While domestic TV users are to pay between GH¢36 and GH¢60 for one or more TV sets in the same house every year, 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.
GBC had in the last two years since the re-introduction, appealed to Ghanaians to voluntarily make their payments.