Omane Boamah writes: StarTimes – Why govt must listen to Ghanaians Omane Boamah writes: StarTimes – Why govt must listen to Ghanaians
In less than one month, I have chanced upon separate photographs of President Akufo-Addo and his wife, H.E. Rebecca Akufo-Addo taken with the President of StarTimes. Photoshop? I quizzed.
But, later on, I saw a Facebook post of Auntie Becky excitedly confirming her “tour of the impressive Star Times Corporation.”
To paraphrase Ng?g? wa Thiong'o as captured in his first novel, “Weep Not Child”, my heart pounded against my rib cage.
Yes! My heart pounced and responded, to the slow but sure slicing of Ghana by foreign interest – not only within the broadcasting space but also in several other sectors in an era when Government has ironically deployed the “Ghana Beyond Aid” slogan.
I subsequently reflected on the several engagements that I had had with StarTimes, the immediate past Chinese Ambassador, and also including my meeting with the Chairman and President of the China EXIM Bank about how the EXIM Bank and StarTimes were delaying Ghana’s Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) migration process.
But I also had a flashback: This very Chinese Ambassador, Sun Baohong, was the first if not the second diplomat, in January.
2017, to pay a courtesy call on President Akufo-Addo immediately he assumed office as President.
Today, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) and several Ghanaians are visibly angry with Government for engaging StarTimes in what has been described as a ‘sweetheart deal’.
GIBA believes the said engagement will undermine their business models developed over the years according to agreed policies, subordinate Ghana’s culture and asphyxiate the entertainment and advertising industry.
These fears must be addressed lest they lead to further job losses in the media landscape in Ghana.
Surprisingly, instead of responding to the genuine and germane concerns of GIBA, Government has resorted to skulduggery, deployment of deliberate inaccuracies and their typical strategy of blame game.
DTT: FACTS FROM 2006 – 2018 (12years)
Twelve years ago, Ghana signed the Geneva 2006 (GE06) Agreement under President J.A. Kufour to establish Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting in the frequency bands: 174 – 230 MHz; and 470 – 862 MHz at the Conference of the International Telecommunications Union.
Some of the benefits of transitioning from analogue to digital terrestrial television include ensuring Ghana conforms to global standards and most importantly to offer Ghanaians better picture quality, clear sound, multiple channels, more interactivity, jobs and career development in the broadcasting, advertising and entertainment industry.
Pursuant to this objective, Cabinet in October 2010 under President John Evans Atta Mills approved the policy framework for the implementation of the DTT project, and mandated the Ministry of Communications to oversee the project.
To foster stakeholder collaboration and buy-in of industry, the Ministry set up the Digital Broadcasting Migration Committee which involved stakeholders from the private and public sectors.
Also, 31st December, 2014 was set as the provisinal DTT switch-on date, 6 months ahead of the global deadline of 17th June, 2015. But this was not met.