A national digital broadcasting migration technical committee that would make policy recommendations to government for a smooth and successful transition from analogue to digital transmission, was on Wednesday inaugurated in Accra.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Communications who swore the 24-member Committee into office, charged it with the mandate of assisting Ghana to switch off analogue broadcasting services before the international deadline of June 17, 2015.
“It is my expectation that the technical committee will consult widely with all stakeholders and also benchmark with work done by other countries within the Africa region to be able to present credible and practical policy recommendations for the realization of the objectives of digital broadcasting migration in Ghana,” he said.
“I am mandating the Committee to commence digital broadcasting in Ghana as early as 2012, starting with all regional capitals with the broadcasting signal,” he added.
The Minister explained that the digital switchover would leapfrog existing technologies and free spectrum which could be developed into a digital dividend to be allocated to other services and for use to connect the unconnected in underserved and remote communities thereby helping close the digital divide.
The Committee is chaired by Mr. Joshua Peprah, Director, Regulatory Administration, National Communications Authority (NCA) with other members made up of representatives of various entities in communication, education, ministries departments and agencies.
According to the Minister, failure to adopt digital broadcasting in Ghana would deprive broadcasters of the opportunity to remain integrated with the worldwide broadcasting fraternity in terms of technological compatibility and advancement.
He asked broadcasting organizations to cooperate more actively and systematically to provide more opportunities to understand and prepare the digital broadcasting transition with its roadmaps and roadblocks and make some logical assessment of the requirements both in expertise and infrastructure.
Mr. Iddrrisu noted that, Ghana would rely on digital transmission as the basis for the delivery of e-government, education, health-care and other socially valuable ICT services and eventually contribute to connecting the world.
Mr. Kofi Totobi-Quakyi, Board Chairman of NCA called on the media to take the lead in creating awareness of the new era in broadcasting that Ghana must of necessity embrace.
He said the migration to digital technology had been necessary because of the developments in telecommunication technologies which enable more efficient use of radio frequency spectrum as well as better quality pictures and sound.
“Our engineers inform me that as a result of this transition, we shall experience up to 10 times more channels than what analogue presently provided, hence more content, more diversification of programmes and accordingly more access possibilities for competitive broadcasters”.
Mr. Totobi-Quakyi said the digital migration however had cost implications for the consumer who must buy the set up boxes to receive digital signal on their current analogue television sets therefore, the Committee must ensure that “in preparing for the switchover we do not leave the consumer at the mercy of merchants who will want to cash in and exploit people”.
“We must pursue the possibility, at the very minimum of assembling the set up boxes in Ghana to spur job creation within the framework of the government’s industrial policy,” he added.
Mr. Bernard Forson, Director General of NCA expressed the hope that households or consumers would be educated extensively on the digital transmission and provided with affordable equipment.