GOtv Ghana Limited, in collaboration with the National Communications Authority (NCA) has held a workshop on Digital Migration for media practitioners and other stakeholders in the communication industry.
The workshop, which was under the theme “Digital Dialogue”, served as a platform for stakeholders in the telecommunications industry and regulators to dialogue on Digital Migration, it benefits and challenges and what it means for Ghana.
There is a global target to switch off analogue television systems and replace them with the digital system by 2015. But Ghana is set to begin the analogue switch off from December 31, 2014.
All Ghanaians would eventually be required to either acquire Digital TV sets or buy decoders or set top boxes (STBs) for their analogue TV sets to enable television viewing.
Already digital TV system is being piloted in Accra alongside the analogue, but there is need for a massive public education ahead of the nationwide digital switch on and analogue switch off, which in itself would be done in phases.
This is why it became necessary for journalists and other stakeholders should be brought up to speed on the details of the process and how far Ghana has come in the march towards the implementation in December 2014.
Participants at the Digital Dialogue workshop included representatives from the (NCA), National Media Commission (NMC), Ministry of Information and Media Relations, Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) and Network of Communication Reporters (NCR).
In his keynote address, Director of Special Projects of the NCA, Major (Rtd.) Emmanuel Owusu-Adansi, indicated the NCA and its partners have come far in preparations towards a smooth transition from analogue to digital transmission.
He said the Digital Migration Committee has been working assiduously to meet the national target of December 2014, adding however that if the country does not meet the 2015 global deadline, it would be able to continue with analogue transmission without a problem.
“Ghanaians may however find it difficult to repair or replace damaged analogue TV sets because manufacturers would have stopped manufacturing spare parts for analogue TV sets,” he said.
Edmund Yirenkyi Fianko, Secretary to the Digital Migration Committee and a Manager, Engineering, at the NCA said the digital migration policy is in place and stakeholders are working according to the policy guidelines to meet the deadline.
He recalled that the NCA recently published the approved standards for the decoders/STBs that would be allowed in Ghana, adding that “we have also selected the DVB T2 technology for the free to air transmission under the digital system”.
The Executive Director of GIBA, Gerald Ankrah expressed GIBA’s frustration over the failure of government to form the Public Private Partnership (PPP) to oversee the building and ownership of Ghana’s Digital Infrastructure.
He was hopeful that government would show commitment to that aspect of the process to ensure a smooth and effective implementation.
Dean of the Network of Communication Reporters (NCR), Charles Benoni Okine pledged the commitment of NCR and the media as a whole to the public education campaign on the digital migration to ensure a successful transition.
He suggested that “information distribution on the migration process need to be thorough.Tthere is a need for the distribution of information brochures on Digital Migration and several points of contact to get information”.
Gerhard Petrick, Secretary of SADIBA
Secretary, Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association (SADIBA), Gerhard Petrick shared the Southern African experience in the preparation for transition to Digital Broadcast Service, outlining the several challenges they are faced with.
The challenges include the lack of transparency and indecision on the part of the government regarding the actual dates of migration, as well as the indecisiveness on the manufacturing of T2 boxes.
Gregory Bensberg, a Policy and Technical Expert for UK’s telecoms industry regulator, Ofcom and for UK’s Independent Television Commission for over 20 years spoke on digital television development in the United Kingdom, emphasizing on the need for alternative content creation in the Digital world.
GOtv, which was recently in Ghana, is the first digital operator using the DBV T2, and offering Ghanaians increased number of channels, better picture and sound quality plus high definition television. GOtv viewers will also not have to migrate or buy new boxes when Ghana eventually goes digital.