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Minority challenges Communications Ministry’s move to reduce GBC’s channels

The Minority in Parliament is challenging the Communications Ministry’s plan to reduce the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation’s (GBC) channels from six to three.

A Member of the Communications Committee of Parliament, Sam George, said the intention was unlawful because the Communications Ministry did not have the remit to take such a decision.

He told the press in Parliament that the Minority is “fundamentally against any attempt to cut the reach and scope of GBC’s work.”

“If the Minister for Communication legally does not have the mandate to make such a demand of GBC, then this whole conversation is moot. An Illegality is an illegality,” he added.

Sam George further remarked that “the NMC [National Media Commission] on the basis of that could actually say they should disregard the letter from the Minister because she is not versed with these powers.”

The GBC is currently operating on the National Digital Terrestrial Television platform but the Communications Ministry wants to ensure there is no redundancy on the platform.

In a June 26 letter signed by the Communication’s Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said GBC would have to “consolidate programming in line with this directive.”

The Ministry’s directive is to take effect 60 days from June 26, 2020.

Ministry’s defense
Also speaking in Parliament, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful defended the order to the GBC.

She noted that the government has been covering the cost of the GBC’s channels on the platforms so far but “that process is unsustainable.”

“If we are going to hand that cost completely to the broadcasting channels at this time when there is a general business slowdown… we will have a problem because, on the basis of the figures I have seen, you will be unable to pay for the cost of hosting the platform.”

The DTT platform also currently has the capacity for 40 channels, which has been used up.

The government’s planned expansion of capacity on the network, which has been delayed by the COVID-19.

“There will be more spectrum available after the completion of the DTT process,” Mrs Owusu Ekuful.

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