The Communications Committee of Parliament is expected to hold a crunch meeting with the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) later today, Thursday, September 27, 2018 over the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) migration issue.
The Committee has received a petition from GIBA over concerns with the involvement of StarTimes in the country’s digital TV space.
The meeting is expected to help resolve the seeming impasse between the government and GIBA on the matter.
Speaking to Citi News ahead of the meeting, a member of Parliament’s Communication Committee and MP for Ningo Prampram, Sam George, said they will give GIBA a hearing at the meeting.
“We are supposed to meet with GIBA on Thursday. The agenda is to discuss the issues going on. There are issues in the communication space. And so the committee is going to sit to have a conversation. GIBA has sent in a petition to us over the issues involving the Ministry and StarTimes,” he added.
The government has postponed migration to digital broadcasting for more than three times.
It however contracted StarTimes in 2012 to supply and install the digital terrestrial television (DTT) infrastructure for Ghana.
The infrastructure was to guarantee multiple TV channels, clearer pictures, better sound quality and offer more opportunities for advertisers and broadcasters.
The project which cost $95 million was supposed to have been completed before 2015.
But StarTimes allegedly failed to execute the project within the timelines hence the contract was abrogated in 2014 and handed over to Ghanaian firm, K-NET.
The termination of the contract according the then Minister for Communications, Omane Boamah, was due to “failure of the company to secure the necessary funding from the China Exim Bank to execute the project.”
The government then awarded the digital migration contract to K-Net, whilst StarTimes sued the government of Ghana for what it described as the unfair abrogation of their contract with the state.
It later went to the International Court over the issue, but according to the Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram, Sam George, Ghana was winning the case until the government in 2017 decided to settle the case out of court in a bid to secure a $19 billion loan from the China EXIM bank.
Meanwhile, GIBA is accusing government of trying to handover the DTT infrastructure to StarTimes to manage; a claim government has refuted.
Minority to drag Ursula to Parliament over dealings with China’s StarTimes
The Minority in Parliament is seeking to drag Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu before the House over the controversy surrounding the involvement of Chinese firm StarTimes in the country’s digital television space.
Speaking to Citi News, the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, said their side will haul the Minister before Parliament to provide further clarity and documentation on the matter.
“We have asked members on our side, and I want to believe that many members even on the Majority side in good fate, want to listen to the official positions, then they can react. We are hopeful that it will happen this week then they will seek the help of the Minister to come and give them further and better particulars,” he added.