The Coalition of Local TV Stations have called on the President John Evans Atta Mills to intervene in the ensuing row over television rights for the 2010 FIFA World Cup scheduled to kick start in South Africa tomorrow.
As it stands now, a larger chunk of the Ghanaian population will be denied the opportunity to watch the Mundial because of rights issues.
The group, made up of six private television stations, namely TV Africa, Crystal TV, Net 2 TV, Skyy TV, E-TV and Multi TV, stated this at a press conference yesterday and also announced their boycott of the coverage of the tournament until further notice because of the raw deal being meted out to them by a group of three TV stations calling itself the Consortium of Ghana TV Stations.
Present were Mr. Kwaw Ansah CEO of TVAfrica, Chief Paul Crystal Djirackor, CEO of Crystal TV, Mr. Wilson Arthur, CEO of Skyy TV, Mr. Ernest Quaye Arday, Net 2 TV, Mr. J.O.T Agyeman of ETV Ghana, and Mr. Fred Amoah of Multi TV
stating their position on the turn of events, Chief Crystal Djirackor said they were taken aback by the sudden issuance of a press statement by the Consortium of Ghana TV Stations, an affiliate of the African Union of Broadcasters (AUB) the TV right holders, that they were offering only 11 out of the 64 World Cup matches to the Coalition.
Expressing their displeasure at the turn of eventd, Chief Crystal said the move was a calculated attempt by a group of self seeking organizations to deprive Ghanaians the opportunity to view the World Cup live.
Narrating what transpired between the Coalition and the Consortium, Chief Crystal said as far back as 2008, a number of private broadcasting stations, excluding TV3 and Metro TV, agreed with GBC to meet with the African Union of Broadcasters (AUB), the right owners, at GBC where the idea was mooted that broadcasting stations in Ghana should form a consortium to acquire the broadcast rights for the 2010 World Cup.
The stations at the meeting jointly wrote a letter and signed it for the Director General of the GBC, to take it personally to the meeting of AUB in Nairobi on behalf of broadcasting stations in Ghana, which he did. Among other things the letter was to also support the AUBís bid to acquire the rights from FIFA on behalf of broadcasting stations in Sub Saharan Africa.
Chief Crystal said there was no further communication on the joint letter, either from the GBC Director General or from the AUB whiles letters written by some of the independent stations to AUB on membership and the rights to the 2010 World Cup were not answered.
Surprisingly, in 2009 three stations, namely GBC, TV3 and Metro TV, announced that they had formed a consortium and acquired the broadcast rights for the 2010 World Cup from AUB, a move that was most shocking to him and his likes.
He said no notice was given to any other station in the country about the availability and terms for the rights and when some of the stations again communicated with the AUB on the issues, there was no response.
The coalition then decided to approach the Consortium to pay for the broadcast rights and they (members of the coalition) were told that the consortium had the authority to grant the rights to other stations and asked the coalition to make them an offer which they did by offering to pay $150, 000.
A meeting on October 19, 2009 the consortium revised its position offering the Coalition 32 live matches, a total of 13 minutes before the match and 15 minutes and eight delayed matches during which the coalition would have no right to display advertisements, accreditation to the stadium has to be endorsed by the consortium while the opening and final matches will attract a rate of $10000, semi final match, $8000, quarter final match, $6000, round of 16 match $4000 and preliminary matches for $2,000 each.
The coalition after requesting the Ministry of Information to intervene on their behalf rather saw the Consortium going cold and insisting they were not opening rights for any other participation forcing the coalition to decide that they were going to cede their entire advertising time from 30 minutes before each game through to 15 minutes after each game to the consortium to carry advertising from the local sponsors as well as the AUB and this he said was to ensure that the Consortiumís effort to raise money from advertising was not interfered with and in return the coalition was to have their rights to broadcast all the 64 matches of the tournament.
At a meeting to formally present their offer to the Consortium they were met with a rejection of their offer forcing them to improve their offer to pay a cash of $ 100, 000,00 in addition to the ceded airtime for the 64 matches and at this point the Consortium decided to end the meeting without making it clear their next course of action.
Chief Crystal Djirackor said members of the Coalition have on a number of occasion have approached Consortium with an offer of $ 126,000,00 and asked for 25 matches with advertising time and to discuss how best to satisfy each other but the Consortium boycotted the meetings.
CEO TV Africa Mr. Kwaw Ansah expressed his sadness at news going round that the Coalition were rather requesting to broadcast the matches for free, a situation he said was not true adding that he believed it was a ploy by some self seeking organization to paint the stations outside the Consortium black. He was however grateful to the Director General of the GBC Mr. William Ampem-Darko, who he stated that at one of their meetings impressed upon the other two stations to shelve any selfish corporate objectives and think of Ghana first, just like all Ghanaians are united for the 2010 South Africa World Cup, they the Ghanaian Broadcasters should also stand united for the 2010 World Cup but those stations were adamant.