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StarTimes Saga: Ghana has no deal yet – Odotei

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A Deputy Minister for Communications and the Member of Parliament (MP) for the La Dadekotopon constituency, Vincent Odotei Sowah, has debunked allegations that the government of Ghana has signed a deal with a Chinese company, StarTimes, to manage the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) infrastructure platform in Ghana.

He said since the infrastructure built by K-Net was inadequate there is the need to expand services to various communities, hence the initiative by the government to provide a minimum of 100 channels with free satellite to some 300 communities across the country.

“K-Net contract is inadequate, it is only 60 channels and therefore needs expansion to a minimum of about 100 channels and that is the agreement we came into at the last meeting with stakeholders to expand it,” he stated.

The deputy minister further said, StarTimes will not manage the digital platform, as being rumored, rather a publicly incorporated company, known as, Central Digital Transmission (CDT), which includes a 7-member board would be inaugurated  to manage the affairs of the platform

“StarTimes has been in business with the nation since 2011 and therefore government can’t terminate their business, but plans to handle the management of the DTT platform to them as being portrayed.”

The deputy communication minister said the Tax waiver of 3million Ghana cedis to StarTimes is limited as it would be on some specific items only.

“We have not signed any agreement to handover anything to StarTimes in the event of default and the Tax waiver granted them is a limited one as it passed through Parliament,” he noted.

The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), has over the past two weeks, been raising concerns over the government’s decision to hand over the country’s digital migration platform to StarTimes, arguing that since it had already set up a pay-TV in Ghana, allowing them to handle the entire DTT infrastructure would threaten Ghana’s security and independence.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Communications has come out to indicate that, the relationship with the Chinese firm, StarTimes, will create job opportunities for the people of Ghana based on the $19 billion loan to be secured from the China EXIM bank. Some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are not amused about the whole deal.

Source: Nii Aflah Sackey

Ghana News Online

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