License fees paid for content, not for TV sets – GBC boss

The Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Dr. Akuffo Annor-Ntow, is at odds with the laws governing the collection of TV License fees.

Ghana’s TV licensing Act 1966 (NLCD 89) mandates the collection of license fees from persons or households that own TV sets, as is the case in many other jurisdictions.However, following recent uncertainty over whether the levy is for TV ownership or the content produced by the state broadcaster, Dr. Annor-Ntow explained that the license is to cover content and not ownership of TV sets.

“You aren’t paying for the television set. You are paying for the content. So the principle is that the public service broadcaster will be generating content and that content is useful and to the extent that it is mandatory to provide that service, the public funds it. So it is not the television set that you are paying for. You are paying for the content.”

Despite Dr. Annor-Ntow’s assertions, the TV License online portal notes that the levy is “for installing and using a Television receiving set and not for content or programmes.”

The Act itself notes that “except in such circumstances as may be prescribed, no person shall install or use any television receiving set unless there is in existence in relation to that set a valid licence granted by the licensing authority under this Decree and to be known as a television receiving set licence.”

The Act defines a “television receiving set” as “an apparatus constructed solely for the reception of pictures (with or without sound) transmitted by radio.

Some countries like the UK have clearly indicated that persons with tablets, mobile phones and other portable devices with streaming capabilities are also required to pay the levy.GBC officially reintroduced the collection of the TV Licence fees in 2015 after years of putting it on hold.

Domestic TV users are to pay between GH¢36 and GH¢60 for one or more TV sets in a household while TV set repairers and sales outlets are to pay an annual sum of between GHc60 to GHc240.

Commercial TV operators are to pay GHc36 per annum for each TV set.

The Chief Justice recently set up a special TV Licence Court to deal with people who refuse to pay the mandatory TV licence.