The National Communications Authority (NCA) has selected eight entities for the award of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) free to air programme channel authorisation in Ghana.
The move, forms part of Ghana’s final preparations towards migrating from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting.
Four of the entities selected are for national coverage whilst the remaining four are for regional coverage.
Those selected for national coverage are the Multimedia Group, ranked as first, Kessben Television, ranked second, Mobile Zone Limited, ranked third and Notice Board Limited which is ranked fourth by the NCA.
Those for regional coverage are Royal Image Broadcasting Limited for Ashanti, OTV Broadcasting Limited for Greater Accra, Kyirfo Multimedia Broadcasting Limited for Northern and Tony D. Company Limited for Volta.
A statement issued by the NCA on Tuesday evening explained that the selection was made after evaluation of the applications received on 30th January, 2017 for the award of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Free-To-Air (FTA) Programme Channel Authorisation.
It said the NCA received a total of 12 applications for national coverage and four applications for regional coverage in the Ashanti, Greater Accra, Northern and Volta regions.
It said the applicants were assessed in four categories namely, Programming Philosophy, Legal Organisation, Technical Capabilities and Financial Capabilities and that as part of the evaluation process, applicants made documentary and oral submissions between February 15, 2017 and February 21, 2017.
The NCA explained that successful applicants have a period of 60 days to validate their Provisional Authorisations by paying the requisite Authorisation fees and added that an opportunity has been offered to unsuccessful applicants to apply for any of the regions for which no applications were received.
Migration from analogue to digital broadcasting refers to the process in which television services operating on analogue networks are transferred to digital based transmission networks over a period of time. At the end of the process the analogue transmitters are switched off.
The TV stations that are currently operating analogue networks are GTV, TV3, Metro TV, TV Africa, Crystal TV, Kwese TV, E-TV Ghana, Net-2 TV, Top TV, UTV, Coastal TV, Cardinal TV, Light TV and Kantanka TV. All these stations would be transmitted in digital form in the migration. The digital form which Ghana would be using is the DVB-T2.
Uncertified digital TVs and Set Top Boxes
Education on the digital migration is still on-going in Ghana and after digital switchover, analogue transmitters will be switched off and analogue sets would be unable to receive television programmes without a set top box.
Already, the NCA has noted with concern, the sale of uncertified television sets marketed as digital television sets in the country.
It said these TV sets have not been tested for Ghana’s DTT standards and cannot be guaranteed for performance to all the features deployed in Ghana and has therefore advised television buyers to buy only certified TV sets and Set Top Boxes with the Digital Ghana Conformance logo affixed to them.
Ghana signed the Geneva 2006 (GE06) Agreement establishing the digital terrestrial broadcasting plan in the bands 174 – 230 MHz and 470 – 862 MHz at the Regional Radiocommunications Conference (RRC-06).
The agreement requires signatory countries including Ghana to migrate from analogue television broadcasting to a digital TV platform by 17th June 2015 (UHF band) and 17th June 2020 (VHF) band.
The application of digital techniques to television broadcasting results in several advantages over analogue including better picture quality, clearer sound, introduction of new services and more interactivity including electronic programme guide (EPG) for television viewers, a higher number of television programme channels and choice for the viewer, a reduced operational cost for broadcasters, efficient use of spectrum as digital broadcasting technology enables transmission of more TV stations.
The radio frequency (RF) spectrum used for terrestrial television is considered a scarce and finite natural resource which makes it necessary to judiciously manage the spectrum both technically and economically for national interest and that economic benefits from the spectrum availability after the switch from analogue to digital transmission is known as the digital dividend.