The Ministry of Communications has directed the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to reduce its six operating digital television channels to three.
In a letter addressed to the Director-General of the GBC dated June 26, 2020, the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said the directive which is to be implemented within 60 days is to ensure that there is space on the National Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform which is currently at full capacity with 40 operating channels.
Currently, the state broadcaster operates six of those 40 digital channels, namely; GTV Sports+ (a channel for sports), GBC 24 (a 24-hour news TV channel) and GTV Life (a religion and culture channel), GTV Govern (a governance channel), Obonu TV (a channel for the people of Greater Accra) and Ghana Learning Television (a channel established for tutoring JHS and SHS students during the COVID-19 pandemic).
However, the letter sighted by Graphic Online suggests that GTV is expected to merge these channels in line with the directive.
Return of channels
The letter also indicates that GTV's channels will be returned when work on the planned expansion of Ghana's DTT network is completed.
"Kindly note that upon the planned future expansion of capacity on the network, which has been delayed due to the current pandemic and the uncertainties generated in global supply chains, you will be allocated additional channels," the letter says.
"Please take steps to implement this directive within sixty (60) days of receipt of this letter. We are counting on your cooperation in this regard".
Minister addresses concerns
Responding to concerns over the directive today in Parliament, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the move is to free up space on the DTT platform whose scheduled expansion has been held-up by the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainties generated in global supply chains.
She added that at the moment it would be impossible for the state to broadcast urgent communication to citizens because the DTT platform is full.
She said: "Right now if the state has need of broadcasting urgent communication to the public ii does not have any means of doing so. If national security has need of broadcasting urgent communication to the citizens, it has no means of doing so".
Multiple channels on Ghana's DTT platform
Only two companies; GBC and Mega-Choice Digital Network, the parent company of Ghana's first private television network (Crystal TV) operate multiple channels on the digital television platform.
Crystal TV operates three free-to-air terrestrial TV channels namely; Crystal TV Prime, Crystal TV Plus and Crystal TV Xtra.