The brazen enforcement of the Television (TV) license fee or levy by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) has generated many controversies in the early days of 2018. This follows the setting up of 11 special TV-Courts, each to be situated in all the 10 regions of Ghana.
The courts according to the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, will deal with TV-License defaulters across the country. The special court is expected to commence its operations on 4th January 2018 and shall sit only on Thursdays.
History and development
The idea was first introduced in Britain in the 1920’s to assist the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) in funding its programmes. In Ghana, the idea was conceived along with the enactment of the TELEVISION LICENSING DECREE, 1966 (NLCD 89), amended by the TELEVISION LICENSING (AMENDMENT) DECREE, 1966 (NLCD 100), and the TELEVISON LICENSING (AMENDMENT) LAW, 1991 (PNDCL 257). This form of license is rare in most of the world, however, about half of the countries in Asia, with a few in Africa and two-thirds of the countries in Europe use Television Licenses to fund public television.
The issue was generously debated by many Ghanaians in 2015 when its enforcement and implementation was hinted by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. While many professed its bereavement in 2015, recent developments have indicated its reincarnation by the establishment of the Special TV-Courts.
Operating under the legal regime, Television License (TV) is a Legal condition prerequisite to proprietorship and possession of a TV Set in Ghana. The law apparently exerts and wields some compulsion to stimulate the payment of the TV-License Levy. According to law, no person shall install or use any television receiving set unless a valid License is granted by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation or any other statutory corporation appointed legislative instrument.
Domestic Proprietorship of TV-Set attracts the payment of a License fee between GHC36 and GHC60 for one or more Sets per annum. Merchants are to pay an annual amount BETWEEN GHC60 AND GHC240.
Many Ghanaians have expressed various forms of disapproval to the implementation and enforcement of License Levy and the prosecutorial functions of the Special TV-Courts. A student lawyer and activist, Tony Nyarko has described the television as cynical.
Isn’t GBC competing already with private broadcasting entities for advertisement revenue?
If answered in the affirmative, would it be fair therefore, to fortify what GBC receives with the tax payers money?
Is GBC Best placed to collect this License fee (a rather form of Tax revenue which is Best enforced by the appropriate TAX institutions other than the regulator itself)?
Source: Tonny Nyarko-Center for Legal and Social Research