Crystal TV, a private broadcasting station in Ghana, has kicked against a request from the Ministry of Communications to reduce its channels on the Digital Terrestrial Television platform.
In a letter to the sector minister, Crystal TV said it is “vehemently opposed” to a directive to reduce its three channels on the platform.
It noted that such a move will “destroy jobs and exacerbate the unemployment challenges in the country.”
The station, thus wants the ministry to “review and withdraw” the request, which has also been made to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.
Crystal TV explained that its channels were authorised within the terrestrial sphere by the National Communications Authority “and as you can see, this can only be implemented on the only platform in the country which is permitted to carry FTA services.”
“…Therefore, removing any of our channels from the National DTT platform, will render the NCA authorisation unusable,” it added in a letter to the Ministry of Communications.
This request thus “automatically amounts to the closing down the operations of our duly authorised free-to-air broadcasting entities of over 25 years in existence,” Crystal TV stressed.
“The directive, therefore, amounts to the revocation of the NCA authorisation as it will be rendered useless.”
The station thus called for further dialogue on solutions to make the DTT more self-sustaining.
“We will find solutions that will reduce the financial burden on the central government in the running of the DTT platform and yet accommodate the free-to-air public broadcasting services which are adequately provided by the state broadcaster and private broadcast entities while paying the appropriate fee to continue providing the masses with the critical indispensable and necessary processes needed in a truly democratic and free society.”
Crystal TV also criticised the Ministry’s seeming use of the COVID-19 pandemic to justify the request.
“We think as the ministry with oversight and responsibility for the growth and sustenance of the telecommunications industry in Ghana, you should be doing more to ease the constraints brought on by COVID-19, especially towards the broadcasting industry.”
The request formally came in a June 26 letter signed by the Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful.
It is to take effect 60 days from June 26, 2020.
The DTT platform also currently has the capacity for 40 channels, which has been used up.
The government’s planned expansion of capacity on the network has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.