StarTimes Exposed In Dodgy Dealings Controversy In Ghana
Ghana and other African countries have sold out their public broadcasting systems to China through very similar dubious deals with Chinese pay-TV company, StarTimes - so says influential industry watchers.
The betrayal in Ghana has happened through allowing direct Chinese investment in the form of joint digital terrestrial television (DTT) partnerships.
Several African countries seem to have entered into dodgy secret contracts with StarTimes with several public and state broadcasters and have agreed to supply or assist with the transformation to digital terrestrial television. All of this is happening because StarTimes wants to find itself enjoying a larger piece of the market share pie than MultiChoice and has been aggressive in its mission to dominate the African pay-TV domain.
The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) has now expressed its concern and said that StarTimes’ agreement with Ghana's government does not align with Ghana's DTT migration process and the country faces reputational damage as a result.
Besides Ghana, StarTimes said it is contracted to do similar satellite TV villages in Burundi, South Africa, Rwanda and in Nigeria.
In Ghana, the initial contract for this project between the government of Ghana and StarTimes was worth $95 million and was signed back in 2012. That particular contract was later cancelled in 2015 and was awarded to K-Net, the Ghanaian owned network, who then took on the project for approximately $82 million which was $13 million less than the original StarTimes amount.
In July 2017, Ghana's government suddenly decided to waive tax on StarTimes by relieving them of the responsibility of paying for import duties, import VAT and multiple other fees and levies amounting to $3 million on materials imported by StarTimes for TV in Ghana.
Ghana's government justified its decision by saying that the StarTimes project would help citizens with the accessing of TV information on national and international events and programmes that would be educational and informative in a manner that would increase their awareness and knowledge to improve their lives.
GIBA disputes this and warns Ghana that StarTimes is only interested in the indoctrination of Chinese culture in Africa and also in dominating the broadcast industry in the leading African countries including Ghana.
GIBA says that China does not allow African Channels to be broadcast in their country; therefore, it makes no sense why African states would enable China so much control and involvement in their broadcast space.
Ultimately GIBA is asking all Ghanaians to join hands with the government in re-adjusting the balance of the relationship that Ghana has with China in its broadcasting industry.