MFWA cautions Ursula on StarTimes and DTT migration

BY: Graphic Online
Executive Director of MFWA, Mr Sulemana Braimah
Executive Director of MFWA, Mr Sulemana Braimah

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has urged the Ministry of Communications to be transparent in the rolling out of Ghana’s digital broadcasting migration programme.

According to the Executive Director of MFWA, Mr Sulemana Braimah, the Ministry’s engagement with relevant players in the sector has so far been unsatisfactory.

He has consequently described the Ministry’s deal with StarTimes as dangerous for the country’s local media industry.

The call follows the disagreement between government and the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) over what role Chinese TV operator StarTimes will be playing in the digital migration.

Contributing to discussions on Joy FM’s Newsfile programme on Saturday, Mr Braimah advised that the Ministry should open up so as to have a smooth role out.

“We have a situation where a tax waiver is granted to a company that apparently is a competitor, because we know StarTimes is operating Max TV,” Mr Braimah said.

Adding, he said, “there is one thing that is clear and it is that there hasn’t been transparency, and there hasn’t been consensus building and going forward, I will appeal to the Ministry that it is important to engage stakeholders for stakeholders to at all time know what the decisions are, what the plans are so that they can well position themselves.”

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StarTimes, a Chinese media conglomerate is at the centre of a controversial Digital Terrestrial TV network deal with assurances from Deputy Communications Minister, George Andah that an agreement with StarTimes is a condition for Ghana to secure a $19 billion loan from the China EXIM bank.

The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) and some other stakeholders have warned the government against wasting money on the deal.

The Minister of Communications, Mr Ursula Owusu Ekuful has been accused of speaking so vociferously on behalf of the Chinese government than she is doing for Ghana.