Ghana to join Digital Migration Platform in 2018 – Minister

Ghana would switch on to the Digital Migration platform in 2018 and not September, 2017 as promised.

The Minister of Communication, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful who announced this at a  two-day National Forum on Content and Digital Migration in Accra, said the government was planning to engage a consultant to review the entire process before switching on to the process next year.

She said every technology had a five- year expiration and since Ghana’s was developed in 2011, it was imperative to review it in its totality to ensure that the country have the highest platform to guide its content.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful, therefore, urged stakeholders to re-examine the policy again to ensure that it was fit before the country switched on to the platform next year.

The National Forum was organised by the National Media Commission (NMC) with financial support from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) for stakeholders to discuss Digital Migration content and regulatory policy and how the process affects content production, distribution and regulatory framework.

The migration was expected to take off in June 17, 2015, but was later postponed to September, due to some hitches in the migration process.

Ghana missed the initial June 2015 deadline, which was set under the Geneva 2006 agreement of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), because of delays in accessing funding for the project.

The Minister announced that the government would establish a DDT Company, which would have all media companies on the board to facilitate the process.

She talked about a comprehensive awareness creation drive on the migration process to prepare the public.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said government would take up the responsibility to subsidise the set-off boxes for those who cannot afford it to have access.

She said under the migration policy, all broadcasters were expected to allocate 70 per cent of their prime time to local content.

She urged the producers to take advantage of that to showcase Ghana’s rich culture and the way of living.

She urged the public, especially the providers to adhere to the rules and regulations covering the process, adding: “Government will enforce sanctions against defaulters.”

Mrs Nana Ama Dokua Asiamah-Adjei, a Deputy Minister of Information, said the advent of digital migration would improve the access to information and urged stakeholders to grab the opportunity to develop policy that would help build the country as well as  provide direct information to the public.

Mr George Sarpong, Executive Secretary of NMC, said the Commission intended to use the forum as a starting point to generate ideas, which would feed into the overall policy on migration.

He said though lots of discussions that went on in the past concentrated on very technical issues… a lot more remained to be addressed on their implications for content and response of regulation and policy.

”When we plan to address the issues around digital migration we must be guided by some framework about the desirable role of the media of the democratic society.

“Freedom, independence, pluralism, diversity are non-negotiable prerequisite of a democratic society, he added.

Mr Christopher Forst, Co-ordinator of FES, expressed the need for stakeholders to focus on content and policy issues to ensure that after completion, consumers would be satisfy in terms of affordability.

He said digital migration could lead to series of benefits for the country and urged the stakeholder to be focused in order to combat any challenges that might come with the transition.

Nana Akwasi Gyan-Apenteng, Chairman of the NMC, commended FES for sponsorship as well as being a partner to many Ghanaian institutions and projects for more than 40 years.

Attending the forum include members of African Communication Regulators Network, of which the NMC of Ghana holds the current Presidency.

Source: GNA

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