Amazing Grace radio station loses licence

Amazing Grace Radio proprietor (right) Gregory Ryan Shoof explains himself before Rwanda Media Commission in February 2018. File.

Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) on Tuesday revoked the broadcasting licence of Amazing Grace Christian Radio.

The revocation, according to RURA Spokesperson Anthony Kulamba, follows failure by the FM radio station to comply with the regulator’s sanctions taken after a controversial sermon aired on January 29, 2018 in which a radio presenter and evangelist, Nicolas Niyibikora, repeatedly denigrated women referring to them as evil.

This broadcast, according to a statement from the regulator, “followed a pattern of radioshows insulting other religious beliefs, which violates article 21(4a and 4b) of Regulation No 004/R/MR-MCA/RURA/2017 of 30 June 2017 governing Broadcasting Services in Rwanda in regard to upholding public morality and Rwandan culture and values in general”.

Following the breach of the above regulations, RURA said, it imposed sanctions against Amazing Grace Christian Radio, which included making an apology to the public with regard to the aired programme, a one-month suspension, and a fine Rwf2,000,000.

Kulamba said that none of the mentioned sanctions was respected by the broadcaster, hence the latest decision to withdraw its broadcasting licence.

He said that before revoking the licence, RURA sent a letter to the station’s proprietor, Greff Schoof, seeking an explanation for non-compliance but the reasons given in response were found to be unsatisfactory.

“He told us that he didn’t find any issue with the sermon; he didn’t want to apologise saying that he wasn’t the pastor who made those remarks and even refused to voluntarily shut down for a month and we had to intervene and enforce the law. He was not willing to pay the fine and gave all sorts of excuses which we were not satisfied with,” Kulamba said.

When contacted, Schoof told The New Times that he was to first seek counsel from his colleagues before responding to the withdrawal of his station’s broadcasting rights.

“I will offer details during a news conference tomorrow (Wednesday),” Schoof said.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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