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General News of Monday, 24 September 2018


Ursula to face parliament over StarTimes deal

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Communications Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Communications Minister

Parliament is set to wade into the controversial engagement between the Communications ministry and the Chinese firm StarTimes.

A member of the Communications Committee of the House and deputy minority chief whip Ibrahim Ahmed has revealed to Starr News that chairman of the Committee Kennedy Agyapong has been tasked to invite the Communications minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful to appear before the committee over the StarTimes deal.

The Chinese company has secured a deal with government that will see it extend satellite TV to over 300 villages across the country.

The communications ministry believes the move will help Ghanaians in rural communities to become alert on national issues and be involved in development since they have will access to content about national projects.

However, the association of independent broadcasters have kicked against the deal raising fears it will take the right of broadcasting from local hands.

“The Agenda of StarTimes is not only aimed at profit or the indoctrination of Chinese culture (names, language, food, etc.) and programmes, but a larger mandate to take over the control of the broadcast space in strategic African countries including Ghana, which is crucial for the China game. Whereas today, China does not allow foreign ownership of media and for that matter, will not allow the African broadcast media the space to trade our African channels in their country. Why then should African states give our broadcast space in the fashion as we are experiencing at the moment,” the association said.

Meanwhile, former communications minister Dr. Edward Omane Boamah has urged the government to ensure an open playing field for both the Chinese and locals over the digital space contract.

“We have been here before! The Chinese Government is supporting StarTimes to penetrate the African market. What is the Government of Ghana doing to promote Ghanaians in broadcasting? I contend that instead of adopting high-handedness as a tool to whip groups and individuals who do not support the StarTimes deal, Government should consider doing the following:

"Immediately ensure mutually beneficial engagements with all stakeholders in order to recalibrate the pathway for the DTT process;

“Publish any agreements entered into with StarTimes on the 300 Villages project; and if none exists, take urgent steps to ensure appropriate regulatory oversight without providing undue advantage to StarTimes which is already an actor in Ghanaian broadcasting,” Dr. Omane Boamah wrote among other suggestions in a statement.

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