Panel Discussion in Memory of Komla Dumor, the Icon of African Broadcast Journalism.
DATE: 18th January 2017.
VENUE: World Bank Office – Accra
THEME: DIGITAL TRANSITION IN GHANA/AFRICA.
(FROM ANALOG TO DIGITAL BROADCASTING)
Over the past few decades, a digital revolution has swept through every sector of national and international systems. This revolution has had far reaching consequences for the media industry. Digital communication technologies as well as the convergence of telecommunication and the media have led to the need for progressive migration from Analog to Digital production and broadcasting. It is rightly assumed that digital migration will offer several advantages. Given these advantages, a move to digital broadcasting has become imperative for television and radio worldwide. Digital migration as an agenda for the global media has led the International Telecommunication Union to seek and pursue the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.
It is known that the beginning of the 21st Century, African countries were in danger or were excluded from the benefits of the digital revolution or the digital economy. Yet the global movement towards broadcasting digitization reached a higher level on June 16th 2006 at a conference initiated by the International Communication Union (ICU) representatives of 104 countries agreed and signed a treaty in Genève, Switzerland.
The aim of the treaty was for all countries to switch over from Analogue to Digital broadcasting. The deadline for this digital transition was to be 2015. By the said date, most Western European countries had accelerated the transition and were already engaged in digital broadcasting transmissions. Should African countries fail to pay serious attention to the digital transmission then this situation will most likely lead to further exclusion of the Continent as a major player in the world’s system. African countries had not met the deadline of 2015. They sought exemption and the switch over date is now 2020.
The 30 African nations that were granted exemption include: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan and Togo. It is important to note however that countries in the SOUTERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY have made far more strides in completing the process of digital migration.
Given the above, the following questions become particularly relevant. Why the transition? What are the benefits? What are the challenges? What are the critical steps by way of creating a comprehensive framework for efficiently and effectively making the transition? Answers to these questions remain critical for making decisions and developing policy guidelines and broadcasting law to effectively and efficiently carry out the transition in the public interest. The issues regarding technical, management, human resource, content regulation, licensing, jurisdictional issues, institutional relationships among others.
Over the years Ghana had developed a dynamic and plural broadcasting landscape. Ghana in her efforts towards digital broadcasting had by 2015 approved 412 radio stations, 313 are currently in operation. Within the same period 63 television licenses had been granted with 30 stations transmitting information to listeners. This situation no doubt calls for a broadcasting law and policy.
Several years ago, efforts had being made to address these fundamental requirements. The Ministry of Communications in consent with other regulatory bodies including the National Communications Authority and the National Media Commission sought to put in place an existing legislation.
Painfully not much has being achieved. The digital media is changing at a break neck speed. Therefore Ghana must begin to put in place the ‘drivers’ of a policy framework and a broadcasting law within the context of this new digital enterprise.
This panel discussion in memory of Komla Dumor is meant to offer a platform for in-depth discussion on the digital enterprise in Ghana. The panel discussion will focus attention on the digital broadcasting movement; the benefits and challenges of digital migration; address the critical issues regarding content regulations and programming; licensing; human resource availability; ownership and management of digital broadcasting; technical issues and the role of independent regulator.