President directs suspension of GBC DTT directive

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed the Minister of Communications to suspend the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) directive given to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).

This is to allow for further consultation with stakeholders regarding the matter.

The Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, had notified management of GBC to consider a reduction from its current six channels to three to allow free space on the national platform.

In a letter addressed to the Director-General of GBC, dated June 26, 2020, after a virtual meeting between the two parties, Minister indicated that “upon the planned future expansion of capacity on the network, which has been delayed due to the current pandemic and the uncertainties generated in global supply chains, you will be allocated additional channels.”

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“Please take steps to implement this directive within sixty (60) days of receipt of this letter,” it added.

However, a letter from the Presidency yesterday directed that the Minister Ursula to suspend the implementation of the directive given to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) “in connection with the reduction of GBC channels on the DTT platform, pending further consultations with stakeholders.”

NMC

Meanwhile, ahead of the President’s directive, the National Media Commission (NMC) had said the moves by the Communications Ministry to reduce the six channels of the state broadcaster and Crystal TV on the platform is outside the Ministry’s remits.

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It described the Communication Minister’s directive as a move that undermines Article 167 of the 1992 Constitution.

In a statement signed by its Chairman, Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh, the Commission said the directive by the Minister was a form of political control, which would hinder the two media houses from adequately serving their purpose as stipulated by the Constitution.

“It is the view of the Commission that any action by any entity which culminates in limiting or depriving the media of the use of public resources legitimately allocated to them undermines their capacity to serve the nation, as anticipated by the Constitution.

“The Commission wishes to state clearly that the directive given to GBC and Crystal TV by the Minister for Communications purports to usurp the constitutional mandate and authority of the NMC and same cannot be obliged under our current constitutional dispensation,” it said.

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His comment comes after the Director-General of the state broadcaster, Prof Amin Alhassan, wrote to the NMC explaining that all six channels serve specific purposes, and that none of them can be taken off.

Giving a breakdown of their uses, he said all six channels are dedicated 24-hour channels with “specified focus reflecting the mandate of GBC as a State Broadcaster, a Public Service Broadcaster and a Commercial Broadcaster.”

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