The Ministry of Communication has denied reports that it has decided to hand over the management of the DTT infrastructure and platform to Chinese firm StarTimes.
“The ministry wishes to state emphatically that it has, in no way, committed to, and does not intend to hand over the management of the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) infrastructure platform to any third party.
“The DTT infrastructure platform shall be managed as a commercial entity incorporated as the central Digital Transmission Company Limited (CDTCL) governed by a board (Representatives from GIBA, TNX Creative Arts Industry and contents Producers, MoF, MoC, the CEO of the CDTCL and the board chair)”, a statement from the ministry said.
It added: “The selection of a contractor and financing options for any aspect of the project ought not to be interpreted as an intention to hand over the ownership and management of the platform to any third party”.
The statement comes on the heels of suspicions raised by the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) that a separate deal between the ministry and the Chinese firm to extend satellite TV to over 300 villages across the country, is being used a conduit to hand over the DTT platform to StarTimes to the detriment of local operators.
GIBA, in a statement, said: “The agenda of StarTimes is not only aimed at [making] profit” or “indoctrinating” Ghanaians with “Chinese culture (names, language, food, etc.) and programmes”, but involves “a larger mandate to take over the control of the broadcast space in strategic African countries including Ghana, which is crucial for the China game”.
“Whereas today, China does not allow foreign ownership of media and for that matter, will not allow the African broadcast media the space to trade our African channels in their country, why then should African states give our broadcast space in the fashion as we are experiencing at the moment”, GIBA wondered.
The Ministry of Communications will on September 26 launch the commencement of the nationwide ‘300 village satellite TV project’.
The ceremony will be held at Akweibu Basic School in Dansoman, the first beneficiary village in the Greater Accra Region.
The project is in line with the government of Ghana’s commitment to bridging the digital divide between the rural and urban areas, the ‘300 village satellite TV project’ is expected to benefit 6,000 households drawn from 300 villages nationwide.
GIBA concerned by delays in digital migration
GIBA had earlier expressed worry over interruptions that have stifled progress in the nation’s quest to migrate from analog to digital terrestrial television.
Speaking in an interview on Citi TV’s major evening news program, Mr. Anninkora called on the Ministry of Communications to provide a definitive date for the migration.
“The Ministry should come out to be able to tell us the date because you see again that the date has been changed and we are waiting for the new date. For instance, the analog is supposed to be switched off. For instance, the one who is going out there to do business should know that the analogy is off. For instance, the one who is talking about getting clients onto his platform should know what percentage of the country we cover, what geographic area do we cover, how many viewers we cover.”
The migration is to protect broadcasting services from interference from neighboring countries as well as improved services.
Mr. Anninkora also demanded answers from the Ministry and other relevant stakeholders to questions about the managers of the migration platform and the cost involved.
“There are questions, who is managing the platform; who are the managers, what are the charges which are managing the whole platform? he quizzed.
StarTimes involvement in Ghana
The government first signed a $95 million deal with the StarTimes to supply and install the Digital Terrestrial Television network platform for Ghana in 2012.
But the contract with Startimes was later abrogated over the failure of the company to secure the necessary funding from the China Exim Bank to execute the project.
The government then awarded the digital migration contract to K-Net, a Ghanaian-owned company.
As K-Net worked on the project, StarTimes sued the government of Ghana claiming an unfair abrogation of their contract with the State.