StarTimes deal: Government’s ‘haughtiness’ to blame for controversy – Sam George

General News of Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

2018-09-26

play videoMember of Parliament’s Communications Committee, Sam George

The controversy that has greeted government’s engagement with StarTimes’ has been blamed on the Communications Ministry’s alleged arrogance.

A member of Parliament’s Communications Committee, Sam George, believes if the Ministry had responded swiftly to concerns about a plan to contract the Chinese satellite TV firm for the expansion of Ghana’s Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Network, the opposition to the deal would have been quelled.

Sam George, who is also MP for Ningo-Prampram, argues that stakeholders, particularly the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), have a right to probe issues within the communications sector and the Ministry must acknowledge same.

“Why are we where we are? This whole discussion that has been going on for some weeks in the quiet, and for the past one week now on national TV and radio, is simply because the Ministry, led by the Minister [Ursula Owusu-Ekuful]…has taken a certain haughty approach that they are unanswerable to anybody. And that they call the shots. They will do what they want, you can make your noise but they will go ahead and do what they want,” Sam George lamented.

He was speaking Tuesday on current affairs programme, PM Express, on the Joy News channel on MultiTV.

He adds that the Ministry has the mandate to work with the stakeholders in important decisions like handing over the expansion of the country DTT to a foreign company that has courted numerous controversy in other African countries.

“if you call us stakeholders then it means we must come together and have a discussion; but don’t take decisions and then even when we are asking you questions based on what we are picking up from the grapevine, we write to you and it takes you [many] months to respond to our letter. And even when you respond to our letter you don’t respond to the issues we’ve asked you. You write back to us after almost five months telling us you have seen our letter. I mean what kind of treatment is that?” he quizzed.

Background

StarTimes has clinched a controversial deal with the Government of Ghana to extend satellite TV to 300 villages in Ghana amid fierce opposition from GIBA, an association of local broadcasters.

The deal comes with substantial tax waivers from Government of Ghana.

StarTimes has also been awarded a deal by the Ministry of Communication to finish the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Network Platform started K-NET, a local firm.

According to the Communications Ministry, K-NET has stalled on the project due to financial constraints, hence the need for StarTimes to finish it up.

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