The June 2020 completion date for completion of the switch over from analog to digital broadcast channels through the Ghana’s Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Project could not be met due the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has said.
“We are faced with a pandemic which makes it difficult to complete the switchover process because of the cost implications on broadcasters”, she noted.
The inability to complete the switchover process – which would have further provided more digital spectrum for usage – has recently forced the Communications Ministry to take draconian actions against the State Broadcaster, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), directing GBC to reduce its channels from the current six to three.
This means the Corporation will have to reduce its operations significantly , which will in turn impose serious budgetary and human resource challenge on its operations, a statement from GBC indicates.
The move by the Communications Ministry has been necessitated by the current maximum usage of Ghana’s spectrum capacity on the country’s DTT platform, which makes it increasingly difficult to have sufficient spectrum for national emergencies.
Currently, the State does not have a means of broadcasting any urgent communication to the public and as such discussions on this matter have hovered around what should be done to free up some amount of capacity on the DTT platform, the Communications Minister indicates.
Already, the Ministry has had discussions and deliberations with the Ministry of Information and the latter has admitted that it is possible for GBC to broadcast on just three channels.
However, some Civil Society Groups, notably the Media Foundation for West Africa insists that the action by the Ministry amounts to interference which will force GBC to alter its content.
The Foundation insists that if the sole purpose of taking such action against GBC is to get additional spectrum for national emergencies – because the existing platform’s capacity is already being fully utilized – then this amounts to interference.
Already, GBC says it cannot halve the number of its channels being broadcast from six to three on the DTT television platform, and is therefore urging the National Communications Authority to intervene.