Ministry Of Communication Might Make Viewers Pay For Digital Free To Air Channels

In 2015, Ghana was supposed to migrate from Analogue TV to Digital TV. This meant that citizens who did not have a digital TV or a digital TV tuner would have to get special set-top boxes to enable them to watch TV channels which would have switched from analogue to digital.

However, it looks like the project never fully took off. Reports of lack of funds and other challenges appear to stall the full migration.

Now it looks like there’s some controversy with the project and Free-To-Air channels.

What’s The Conflict?

With a full rollout of digital TV, there were channels would be available for free for viewers to watch if they had a digital TV. Those channels were:

  • GTV
  • TV3
  • Metro TV
  • TV Africa
  • Crystal TV
  • Viasat 1
  • E-TV Ghana 
  • Viasat-1
  • Net-2 TV
  • Top TV 
  • UTV
  • Coastal TV,
  • Cardinal TV 
  • Light TV 
  • Kantanka TV

Now it looks like there’s a clash about to start with the Ministry of Communication and operators of Free To Air channels.

The Ministry wants to introduce a policy which would force operators to charge viewers for access to those channels. If implemented, viewers of the above-mentioned channels wouldn’t be able to view them unless they have paid the operators.

An Executive Council Member of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), Prince Harri Crystal, says the Ministry and its regulating agency, the National Communications Authority (NCA) have no mandate in controlling television service providers operating free-to-air television networks.

GIBA is strongly opposed to the proposal to implement a conditional access system on the digital terrestrial television platform which has been set up primarily to deliver free-to-air- television services to the populace,” Mr. Crystal stated.

According to the Ministry of Communication’s own document, 1.1 million out of 4.6 million Ghanaian households rely on the Free To Air Platform.

What Happens Next?

At the moment, the policy is in its draft stages with no timeline when it will finalised. This looks to be a controversial issue which could have a lot of repercussions for the Digital TV migration.

If the Ministry of Communication gets its way, Ghanaian viewers may have to pay for channels which should be Free To Air.