TWO MPs “TRADE PUNCHES” OVER STARTIMES DEAL

Kennedy Agyapong,

Kennedy Agyapong,

THE political acrimony between the Majority and Minority caucuses of Parliament reached a crescendo yesterday when two members on the Communications Committee allegedly engaged in a physical brawl.

 

This was when officials of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) appeared before the Committee on the ‘controversial’ agreement the government had reached with Chinese firm, StarTimes, to manage Ghana’s Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform.

 

The alleged physical exchanges, between the chairman of the committee and Member for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong and the Ningo Prampram Member, Samuel Nartey George, forced the committee to an early suspension.

 

It is unclear what triggered the alleged exchanges but journalists who were hovering in the corridors of the 10th floor of the 12-floor Job 600 office complex where the meeting was being held, to report, converged on the entrance of the committee room and could hear the loud voices of the two members as their colleagues tried to restrain them.

 

Describing the episode as an”embarrassing spectacle” in an interview with journalists, a member on the committee and Kumbungu MP, Ras Mubarak said what transpired should “never have happened at a committee meeting of Parliament.”

 

“As regrettable as it is, particularly when we had visitors,” Ras Mubarak said “we will try to iron out those things. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

 

Adding that he felt “hugely embarrassed,” Ras Mubarak who neither admitted nor denied whether the confrontation got physical, said the committee as a whole needed to endeavour to know that “the things that we will not do outside, we (don’t) bring those things into a committee meeting.”

 

Probed by the media if the development was physical, the first-term lawmaker said “I am not going beyond telling you that it was an embarrassing spectacle.”

 

Looking at the magnitude of the alleged fracas, Ras Mubarak said he was surprised that the committee was able to put itself together and reconvene because members including the chairman had left.

 

A further push by journalists to be told what could have resulted in the alleged fight proved futile as Ras Mubarak repeated that: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

 

The StarTimes deal has been at the centre of national discourse over the past three weeks after it emerged that government had terminated an agreement with Ghanaian company K-Net in favour of the Chinese firm for the management of the DTT space.

 

The decision raffled the feathers of the GIBA who are leading a crusade to have the agreement with StarTimes terminated.

 

The association contends that “If StarTimes is allowed to control Ghana’s only digital television infrastructure and the satellite space in the name of digital migration, Ghana would have virtually submitted its broadcast space to Chinese control and content.”

 

In a statement issued in Accra a week ago, the GIBA advised the government to “back out of whatever deal it has entered into with StarTimes, which will negatively impact broadcasting in our nation – Ghana.”

It “sincerely” asked that “broadcasting (was) left out of the Chinese agenda.”

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI 

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