The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) has protested against the framework and steps being taken by the Ministrhy of Communications on Ghana ‘s Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Network roll out.
A statement issued and signed by members of the Executive Council of the association in Accra, sold that if the digital migration of television broadcasting continued along the path it was currently going, it would destroy independent broadcasting in Ghana and kill the businesses of existing local broadcasters.
The Association accused the Ministry of Communications of reneging on its earlier agreement of having a sing signal distributor established through a Public, Private Partnership (PPP) between Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and GIBA.
The statement said, without the PPP in place, GIBA is concerned about the possibility that the network owner or operator could exclude some broadcasters either by barring them from use of the platform or the imposition of onerous fees.
It expressed worry about contract arrangements being finalized with Star Times of China to roll out the DTT Network in Ghana when right from the onset, and through the entire tender process the total project cost was based on the assessments of existing structures belonging to both GIBA and GBC.
The statement dollars raised concern about the final cost of the DTT roll-out in the proposed contract of 118,760,000 dollars to Star Times of China.
It said based on international case studies and similar installations in other countries, dollar GIBA estimates Ghana’s 58 proposed. DTT transmission sites to cost not more than 58,000,000 dollars.
The Association said it was concerned that the pre-financing condition in the tender documentation was being waived to enable Star Times undertake the project with a loan acquired by the Government of Ghana on concessionary terms from the Government of China.
According to GIBA, the present arrangements were unfavourable to local broadcasters, who had invested millions of dollars in infrastructure and had shown over the years that they had the requisite capacity within the broadcasting industry.
It is the position of GIBA that the digital migration process as it is now, stood has had tendency to marginalise its members and give undue advantage to a foreign entity.”
The Association expressed concern about the danger in awarding the contract for the network infrastructure or platform to Star Times of China which was also a broadcaster and was already in competition with broadcasters in Ghana.
It said with the present arrangements, viewers stood the risk of being subjected to high monopolistic prices of a platform operator of broadcaster.
The association noted that, letters it wrote to the Ministry of Communications, raising concerns about several anomalies, were disregarded.
The statement called on the Ministry of Communications to take steps to address the issues raised saying, “GIBA will not sit unconcerned as it is excluded from the development and control of the crucial infrastructure on which television transmission in Ghana will run.”
It said it was will to dialogue with all digital stakeholders and those committed to delivering Ghana’s migration dispassionately.