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General News of Friday, 7 May 2010

Source: GNA

Ghana to implement digital migration by 2013 - Fianko

Accra, May 7, GNA - Ghana's quest to switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting under the 2006 Geneva Agreement could be realised before the stipulated period of 2015 spelt out by the agreement. "Although the international deadline for implementation of the policy is 2015, Ghana has set a time frame to complete the nation-wide migration by 2013"

Mr. Edmund Yirenkyi Fianko, Secretary of National Digital Broadcasting Migration Technical Committee (NDBMTC) who announced this said: "all things being equal, implementation of the migration policy would help establish a more equitable, just and people-centred information society". He was speaking at a day's workshop organised by the National Communication Authority (NCA) in Accra on Friday to brief the media on progress made by NDBMTC charged to make policy recommendations to government for a smooth and successful transition from analogue to digital transmission. The 24-member committee inaugurated early this year, was mandated to consult widely all stakeholders and monitor performance of other countries within Africa to be able to present credible and practical policy recommendations to realise objectives of digital broadcasting migration in Ghana.

Digitization of broadcasting is the application of digital techniques to encode audio and video signals and transmit digital data rather than analogue waveforms on networks to consumers. The project on completion would support mobile reception of video, internet and multimedia data, making applications, services and information accessible and usable anywhere and at any time. It would also open the door to new innovations such as Handheld TV Broadcast (DVB-H) along with High-Definition Television (HDTV) while providing greater bandwidth to existing mobile, fixed and radionavigation services. Terrestrial digital broadcasting has many advantages over the analogue system which include expanded services, higher quality video and audio, greater variety and faster rates of data transmission, consistency of data flows over long distances as well as more spectrum efficiency means more channels.

Mr. Fianko said the committee had already started a pilot project and in addition, projected that by 2012 it would have completed covering all regional capitals and their environs. "The regional agreement for digital services has been reached in the frequency bands 174 - 230 MHz and 470 - 862 MHz", he added. Mr. Fianko explained that the project which involved countries in Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Islamic Republic of Iran sought to leapfrog existing technologies to connect the unconnected in underserved and remote communities thereby helping close the digital divide. He noted that failure to adopt digital broadcasting in Ghana would deprive broadcasters of the opportunity to remain integrated with the world-wide broadcasting fraternity in terms of technological compatibility and advancement. Mr. Kofi Nyantakyi, Chairman of Consumer Affairs and Public Education Sub-committee of NDBMTC, called on the media to take the lead in creating awareness of the new era in broadcasting that Ghana must of necessity embrace. He noted that as part of the switchover plans, there would be comprehensive public education in English, Twi, Dagbani, Ga, Ewe, Nzema and Hausa.

Mr. Nyantakyi said migration to digital technology had been necessary because of developments in telecommunication technologies which would enable more efficient use of radio frequency spectrum as well as better quality pictures and sound. However, he said the digital migration 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 would 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 government's industrial policy", he added. Mr. Kwasi Diawuo, Chairman of Technical Sub-committee of NDBMTC, said as a result of this transition, "we shall experience up to 10 times more channels than what analogue presently provide, hence more content, more diversification of programmes and accordingly more access possibilities for competitive broadcasters". 7 May 10

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