MIGRATION from analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television broadcasting in Ghana will be in February 2016, much later than the June 2015 deadline, Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah, Minister of Communications, has said.
He expressed regret that the difficulty in accessing the China EXIM Bank facility had delayed in the deployment of the digital infrastructure in the country.
The minister said this in Accra yesterday when he received the evaluation report of the Expression of Interest (EOI) from bidders for the deployment of the digital broadcasting infrastructure in the country.
Dr. Abdul-Bassit Aziz Bamba, the head of the five member committee that evaluated the EOI from the bidders, presented the report to the minister.
Dr. Boamah said Ghana was projected to earn 230 million dollars as digital dividend from the migration from analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television broadcasting.
This projection is based on the fact that when television broadcasters switch from analogue to digital platform, parts of the electromagnetic spectrum would be freed up because digital broadcasting required fewer spectrum.
Dr. Boamah said the freed-up spectrum would be made available to the telecommunication industries for sale to enhance data usage, internet connectivity and reliability to propel the digital economy.
Ghana appears to miss out on the June 2015 deadline, switch over from the current analog television transmission to digital broadcasting for better quality service, in line with international standards, as required under Geneva 2006 agreement of the International Telecommunication Union.
The National Communications Authority is carrying out a transition of television broadcasting services in the frequency 174-230 MHz and 470-862 MHz from analogue to digital technology.
The digital television offers far more channels to viewers with good sound and picture quality, and viewers with the existing analogue TV sets can receive digital signals by attaching a Set-Top Box to their TV set.
With the receipt of the evaluation report Dr. Boamah said “we are confident that within a week we will let you know our decision……by February 2016 we should have completed the deployment of the infrastructure nationwide”.
He said the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting would come with numerous benefits, not forgetting about some challenges saying “just by the single act of migration we are seeing opportunities in the creative industry, the advertising industry, the telecommunication industry as well as opportunity for everyone who consumes products of television and internet usage”.
Dr. Boamah said with the multiplicity of television stations, digital migration would come with huge demand for the services of the creative industry, adding that only the best station would get the benefit from advertising agencies.
“Advertisers have opportunities and risk, with the multiplicity of channels for advertisement, definitely those who have the best will get the benefits of the market,” he said.
The communications minister noted that the migration to digital broadcasting would result in the reduction in the cost of doing business because broadcasters would not have to deploy towers to reach out to the population, adding that those who enter into the market as new operators would not need to establish huge studios.
Additionally, Dr. Boamah said opportunities abound for polytechnic graduates who would be engaged in the installation of set-top boxes to convert the analogue television to operate within the digital domain.
The minister said efforts were being made to expedite the passage of the Broadcasting Bill “so that we will be able to have a minimal local content that must be allowed to provide opportunity for those in the creative industry”.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman