Abrogate MoC, StarTimes deal-GIBA

Mr Prince Crystal, Executive Council Member of Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA)

Mr Prince Crystal, Executive Council Member of Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA)

The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) has urged the Ministry of Communications (MoC) to abrogate the deal it has signed with StarTimes China to develop the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform.

According to GIBA, the contract would subject the country’s broadcast space to foreign control, a situation which would affect the sovereignty of the country.

An Executive Council Member of GIBA, Prince Hari Crystal who made the call at a forum in Accra yesterday, said the contract did not inure to the benefit of the country.

The forum organised by Imani Africa was on the theme “Unpacking Ghana’s Dance with China’s Media Dragons:  the Curious Case of StarTimes.  Are Ghanaian media owners and practitioners afraid of Chinese competition or Ghana is simply unclear about the Chinese State-Led Media Strategy in Africa?”

Mr Crystal explained that the MoC deal with Star Times which involved the 300 Satellite TV Project launched at Dansoman in Accra,  yesterday, would roll back the efforts made to move the country from an analogue to digital television broadcasting, saying so far, 42 DTT sites had been constructed across the country to enhance digital broadcasting.

The GIBA Executive Council Member intimated that the StartTimes DTT Enhanced contract was a betrayal of the recommendations made by the National Committee on Digital Broadcasting Migration Technical Committee in 2007.

The committee, he said concluded that Ghana’s transition from analogue to digital broadcasting should be rolled out with the set-up of DTT platform, instead of using satellite transmissions as Direct-to-Home (DTH) service.

“The DTT broadcast was chosen after several deliberations, consultations and considerations as a more reliable and dependable mode of broadcasting that the nation would have full control over its operation and broadcast platform,” Mr Crystal said.

The president of GIBA, Andrew Danso-Aninkora, said,  Ghana was not safe since it did not have control over or knew what went into the construction of the DTT platform by StarTimes  China, adding that in an era of data espionage, it was dangerous to leave the country’s broadcast space to foreign control.

Mr Danso-Aninkora hinted that GIBA was considering a court action if the concerns such as local content, were not addressed by the MoC.

He expressed the hope that meeting between MoC and GIBA would yield fruitful results, stressing that GIBA was happy that its concerns on MoC’s award of the DTT platform contract to StarTimes China had occupied the media space for the past one week.

The Executive Director of the Media Foundation of West Africa (MFWA), Sullemana Braimah said government should be concerned about local content and should help the local media to survive and pointed out that some media personnel had lost their jobs and some media houses had even cancelled their live programmes.

Member or Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram Sam N. George said it was regrettable that   MoC had re-awarded the DTT platform contract to StarTimes China which lost a court case it initiated, challenging the government’s abrogation of  the contract.

He expressed concern about the $3 million tax waiver to Star Times, when nothing was offered to K-Net which executed the DDT platform contract.

The founding president and Chief Executive Officer of Imani Africa, Mr Franklin Cudjoe commended the speakers for succinctly dilating on the saga and also said the MoC had responded to the 23 questions raised by Imani Africa on the StarTimes Enhance contract.

By Kingsley Asare

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