The National Commission Authority (NCA) has commissioned its Broadcasting Monitoring Centre (BMC) to facilitate the comprehensive monitoring of broadcasting services in Ghana.
The BMC, an expansion and upgrade of the NCA’s Broadcasting Monitoring System (BMS), would monitor and record broadcast media contents.
The aim of the BMC is to, among other things, sanitize the broadcasting landscape, protect consumers of broadcasting services, and ensure broadcasters operated within allocated bandwidth.
Section 2 of the Electronic Communications Act of 2008, Act 775 mandates the NCA to regulate the radio spectrum designated or allocated for use by broadcasting organisations and providers of broadcasting services.
The BMC had the capacity to record about 100 video channels (terrestrial/satellite), record FM radio in Accra and monitor about 13 satellites.
The new BMC can record up to over 50 FM radio stations and 100 television stations.
The Authority will engage broadcasters on the violations that were worthy of punishment.
Board Chairman of NCA, Isaac Osei-Bonsu Jnr. stated that the BMC will play an important role such as the monitoring of content for various institutions such as the National Media Commission (NMC), National Security, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) among others.
He noted that technical parameters are being monitored by the NCA, which will serve as evidence of what goes on in the broadcasting landscape and will bring sanity to the media landscape.
Osei-Bonsu said that BMC will provide information to various agencies when needed for investigations or verification.
He stressed that the BMC will show how state agencies can collaborate and control each other’s systems, solutions, and data to impact their delivery without having to face any obstacles when sourcing information for their work.
He indicated that there is a difference between the SIM database or registry and the BMC.
“The difference is that state agencies have to provide relevant court orders to access the SIM-related data to protect the subscriber and to comply with the tents of the data protection act whiles information from BMC will require no such requirements given that the content has already been published in the public domain,” he explained.
Director General of NCA, Joe Anokye stated that two key projects have been initiated towards enhancing the efficiency of the Authority’s operations.
He explained that the first initiative is automating the spectrum management process with new automated spectrum management which is to digitize the application process.
He reported that the painstaking exercise has been completed for the services which use the radio frequency Spectrum and a key weakness in the Authority’s operational setup that gave rise to the findings of the 2017 FM broadcasting audit has been cured through technology and innovation.
He added that the Board and Management of NCA have decided to expand the system to cover all the other non-spectrum services administered through the performance gains they have observed.
The second initiative, he said is the establishment of systems to effectively monitor compliance with the technical conditions of the broadcast authorizations.
“This has progressively acquired Spectrum Monitoring tools for the engineering team one of which is the Broadcasting Monitoring System (BMS),” he said.
The Director of Engineering at NCA, Rev. Edmund Yirenkyi Fianko, highlighted some benefits of the BMC.
He said that the BMC ensures better broadcast service quality for consumers, and helps to show proof of deviations for enforcement of authorisation, conditions, and evidence in cases of disputes before the court.
He also stated that BMC can provide Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) quality analysis for the national network on a real-time basis.
“This will also provide technical information to support consumer education during the transition” added.
He concluded that the NCA can meet the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) requirement for the measurement of FM and TV parameters.
Dr George Sarpong, Executive Secretary, National Media Commission (NMC) said the establishment of the BMC would give the country the opportunity to address the ills that affect society.
“What the NCA has established for all of us is going to permit us at the NMC, as I have already demonstrated to you, to see the trends in media coverage and the implications for peacebuilding and national development,” he said.
Ms Fatimatu Abubakari, Deputy Minister of Information commended the NCA and the NMC for the initiative indicating that, the BMC would keep all broadcasting media organisations in their toes.