A meeting by the Communications Committee of Parliament to discuss the controversial StarTimes deal has been suspended following a near brawl between Chairman of the Committee, Kennedy Agyapong, and a member, Sam George.
The two have taken entrenched views over the propriety or otherwise of how the government contract was taken away from local company- K-Net- and awarded to the Chinese firm.
Mr Agyapong has publicly stated K-NET unfairly treated his television station NET 2 by taking it off its platform when they were in charge of the deal.
Accordingly, the Assin Central MP demanded abrogation of the K-NET deal with government. Sam George in a response said NET 2 was taken off the K-NET platform because of its inability to pay for satellite link charges. The two lawmakers held on to their views making it difficult for the meeting to continue.
“There was an issue that should not have happened in the first place, especially as there were visitors attending upon the committee. It was an embarrassing spectacle but we will try and resolve it internally,” a member of the committee Ras Mubarak, said.
The Chinese company has secured a deal with government that will see it extend satellite TV to over 300 villages across the country.
The communications ministry believes the move will help Ghanaians in rural communities to become alert on national issues and be involved in development since they will have access to content about national projects.
However, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) has warned that the move was a cover-up by the Chinese firm to push them out of business and control the national space.
“The Agenda of StarTimes is not only aimed at profit or the indoctrination of Chinese culture (names, language, food, etc.,) and programmes but a larger mandate to take over the control of the broadcast space in strategic African countries including Ghana, which is crucial for the China game.
“Whereas today, China does not allow foreign ownership of media and for that matter, will not allow the African broadcast media the space to trade our African channels in their country. Why then should African states give our broadcast space in the fashion as we are experiencing at the moment,” said GIBA.