GIBA Bares Teeth On Digital Migration

Information reaching DAILY GUIDE indicates that television broadcasting members of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters’ Association (GIBA) are planning a series of action aimed at forcing government to clear the path for the smooth transition from analogue to digital television broadcasting.

According to sources, a crunch meeting of TV broadcasters and GIBA Executive Council was held last Friday at the association’s secretariat.

At the said meeting, members were unhappy with the seeming feet dragging by the Ministry of Communications in naming the winner of the bid to construct the digital platform infrastructure for the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) migration.

With only two weeks to the deadline for Ghana’s migration, members are wondering what the fate of the industry would be and have urged the Council to review all options necessary to compel the government to clearly indicate the way forward. Government is pushing the deadline to next year because of contractual problems, leading to the abrogation of the original contract with the Chinese firm, Star Times.

Deep-throat sources at the Ministry of Communications have confirmed that a local company which won the bid after tender was re-opened had formally been invited for negotiations.

However, the negotiations seem to have hit a snag due to attempts by some powerful elements in the ruling party to bring back Star Times of China, through the back door.

Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, has ruled out bringing back the Chinese company.

“I have no idea what that means, their (Star Times’) contract remains lawfully terminated. Period!” the minister told DAILY GUIDE when reached yesterday for comment.

It will be recalled that the government had to cancel its contract with Star Times, an issue which later landed in court; and the court cleared the government on the abrogation of the contract. The Chinese Government is understood to be applying the necessary pressure for the Government of Ghana to reinstate the Star Times contract – a move which members of the association have sworn to vehemently oppose. The original contract was said not to be in favour of the country.

When reached for comments, Executive Secretary of the association, Kwasi Asare, declined comment, saying the association continues to engage all relevant stakeholders on the matter and that at the appropriate time it would issue a statement.

Industry watchers are wondering whether the digital migration will come to pass.

These seem to be heady days for the association as last week the body also indicated its displeasure at the National Communications Authority (NCA) with the purported reclassification of radio stations in the country, limiting coverage to a maximum of 45 kilometers radius.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that the matter may be sent to court since the operators were not engaged before the directive.