Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, says the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) has no right to dictate to government over its deal with China-owned broadcaster StarTimes.
According to the Minister, Government’s mandate does not include bowing to the demands of GIBA when it comes to national decisions.
Last week, the Ministry of Communications announced that it has a partnership with Chinese-owned StarTimes to distribute 300 village satellite TVs nationwide.
The Government said the partnership is geared towards bridging the digital divide between the rural and urban areas.
The China-backed digital broadcaster in Africa, StarTimes was presented to the Ghana government as a condition for obtaining a loan from the Chinese Eximbank.
However, the deal has been protested by a section of Ghanaians who believe China is only planning to take over Ghana’s digital space.
In a press release, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) said “if StarTimes is allowed to control both Ghana’s only digital television infrastructure and the satellite space in the name of digital migration, Ghana would have virtually submitted its broadcast space to Chinese control and content.”
But the Communications Minister disagrees, insisting GIBA has no right to dictate to government on what it should do.
“Is the independent Broadcasters Association telling us that they should dictate the pace, content of the DTT migration project? I don’t think so and I think that they also see themselves as key stakeholders of the project but not as dictators of the entire project because they are not financing the project and they can’t sit there and dictate what government does in this process. And I will be a little hesitant to think that that is the stance they have taken that because they have said ‘A’, it should be ‘A’ and it shouldn’t be any other process,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful remarked.
“I have sat here and listened and I am still at a loss what their issues are. Is it a question of not getting timely response to the correspondence that has been sent to the Ministry? Or is it as has been put out there in that alarmist publication by GIBA that the Ministry of Communications is handing over the DTT infrastructure to a Chinese company StarTimes to manage? What is the issue? When you put it to GIBA they were unable to allege that what they put out there in their press statement is what is the issue. Now it is lack of timely response in questions sent to the Ministry so I am still trying to find out exactly what GIBA’s concerns are so that we can address them,” she added.
The ‘300 village satellite TV project’ is also expected to benefit over 6,000 households drawn from 300 villages nationwide, according to the government.