Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications, has said the Ministry’s request to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to cede some of its channels is in the interest of national security.
A letter dated June 26, 2020 to the Director-General of GBC directed the state broadcaster to reduce the number of its channels on the National Digital Terrestrial Television Network (NDTT) from six to three within 60 days.
The letter explained that the directive “is to ensure that there is redundancy on the National DTT platform, which is currently at full capacity.”
The letter said GTV’s channels would be returned when work on the planned expansion of Ghana’s DTT network was completed.
However, Mr Sam Nartey George, Minority Spokesperson on Communications, addressing a press conference at the Parliament House in Accra, said the GBC operated under the Ministry of Information and any directive on its activities should come from that Ministry and not the Communications Ministry.
“When the digital switch is over, there are going to be a lot of white spaces, which will be additional spectrum for government to use,” he said.
Mr George noted that there was no need to reduce the number of channels being operated by the state broadcaster by half.
Moreover, the Management and the Board of GBC have taken issue with the directive compelling them to run to the National Media Commission for redress.
The Minister of Communications, in reaction, said: “The fact still remains that the sole multichannel through which broadcasting can be transmitted in this country for now is full to capacity; there is absolutely no redundancy on it, for us as a country it is dangerous to be in this situation.”
She said the Government was working on an additional multiplex to provide more capacity and the situation had absolutely nothing to do with spectrum.
“It is the multiplex, which has capacity challenges and not spectrum and until such time as we acquire an additional multiplex to provide channels for broadcasting in this country, we have no other means of doing so.”
“So a responsible Ministry in a responsible Government has to take the only means available to it, at this time to sit with those who have excess capacity on that multiplex to cede some of it for the security of our own state.”
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the NMC could not compel the Ministry to withdraw the directive.