Minister Requests Suggestions On Digital TV Policy


By Cecil Mensah

The Ministry of Communications, is inviting comments and suggestions from all stakeholders, as well as the general public on the National Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcasting policy 2016.

The National DTT policy, is expected to develop guidelines for Ghana’s migration from analogue television broadcasting to digital terrestrial television broadcasting.

A notice hosted on the official website of the Ministry of Communications, revealed that National DTT platform was to be completed by October 31, 2016.

It added that, the draft policy proposes, a simulcast of both analogue and digital broadcasting with a final “switch off” of analogue broadcasting by September 21, 2017.

The notice is, therefore, requesting comments and suggestions in the form of hard copies be forwarded to the Ministry of Communications, addressed to the Chief Director, Ministry of Communications, P. O. Box MB 38, Accra.

It also mentioned as the email through which the suggestions, could be submitted.

The notice signed by the Minister for Communications, Dr. Edward Omane-Boamah, requested the comments to be available before June 6, 2016.
All you need to know about the Digital Terrestrial Migration

Ghana will be finally migrating from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting by march 2016.This has been the news moving on the airwaves for some time now and Ghanaians are still wondering how ‘big a deal’ this migration is suppose to be.

People are asking questions that include what the migration from analogue means; why the migration is happening, when the migration will take place, how it would affect the individual, why the need for the migration as well as if the migration has taken place anywhere in the world.

All these questions surely have answers that would put the average Ghanaian’s mind to rest and prove to them that, the Digital Migration is surely a ‘big deal’ for Ghana to enable broadcasters to offer more programmes, services, improve quality as well as improve spectrum and energy efficiencies.

In analogue broadcasting, the signal is in the form of a continuous wave, where as digital is in the form discrete bits of information. In addition the digital signal is encoded and can be compressed to allow for more channels to be broadcast.

For Ghana not to be left out in this change, she is suppose to migrate to ensure that broadcasting services are protected from interference from neighboring countries; provide improved services and to bring great benefits of digital broadcasting to Ghanaian television viewers and broadcasters.

Also Ghana’s migration would lead to the release of some valuable spectrum currently used for analogue television broadcasting for the provision of mobile broadband services.

Now, the migration from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting simply refers to the process in which television services operating on analogue networks are transferred to digital based transmission networks over a period of time in which at the end of the process, the analogue transmitters are switched off.

The good news is that, when this migration takes place, one does not need to buy a new television set if one already has an analogue television. With an existing analogue TV set one only needs to buy an approved Set Top Box that complies with Ghana’s Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) receiver standard and has the ‘Digital Ghana’ conformance logo.

Since analogue TV sets cannot receive digital TV signal directly, an intermediary device popularly called Set-Top Boxes (STBs) or decoders can be installed to enable TV viewers to watch digital TV services on their current analogue TV sets.

To give understanding to what a Set Top Box is, it’s a unit that receives the digital tv signal captured over the air by an antenna and decodes the digital signal into a will depend on how you would want to operate the TV Sets.

If a person has more than two television sets, it is possible to feed all sets from one set top box but, they will all show the same programme that this is selected. Due to this, for the television set to show different programmes, each television set needs to be connected to a separate Set Top Box.

In any case one has to ensure that, the set Top Box and Integrated Digital TV conforms to Ghana’s Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Receiver standard. Conformance to Ghana’s DTT standard is marked by the digital Ghana logo affixed on the receiver. Alternatively one can buy a Digital
Television set which is able to receive digital signals directly from an antenna.

In this case, there is definitely no cause for alarm of discarding your analogue television when the migration takes place provided a Set Top Box is available to support it.

Asking the question if this migration has happened anywhere in the world, the answer is a yes. The United State of America completed digital migration in 2009 and most countries in Europe completed by 2012 while a few Africa countries including Rwanda and Tanzania have also migrated.

It has come to my notice that most television sets entering the system these days are High Definition Television (HDTV), Standard Definition television (SDTV) and Integrated Digital Television (IDTV).

I believe one is wondering the difference between these television sets.

High Definition Television (HDTV) is digital television format whose display resolution is higher than that of Standard Definition TV offering high picture resolution and enhances sound quality whiles Standard Definition Television (SDTV) is a digital television format that provides lower resolution than HDTV and higher resolution than analogue TV.

Also Integrated Digital Television is a television set which contains all the components necessary to receive and display digital transmission. It has an in built digital TV tuner and hence does not require a digital set to box.

Now, the existing analogue Television stations will be transmitting in Standard Definition (SD). However, the Ghana Digital Terrestrial Television (DDT) Receiver standard makes it mandatory for all Integrated Digital TV (IDTV) sets to support High Definition. The set-top box may support only SD or both SD and HD.

It is important to note that there are some television stations that operate terrestrial television and satellite dish and some of these are DSTV and Multi TV.

Terrestrial television is the television broadcast service where ground based television transmitters send out broadcast as radiowave which are picked up by an antenna whereas satellite television broadcasts over satellite and picked up by a satellite dish.

DSTV and Multi TV decoders are fed from satellite dishes and can only receive satellite transmission. You need a UHF antenna and a DTT Set Top Box to receive the digital terrestrial TV transmission.

However there will be combo set-top boxes that may support both satellite and terrestrial services but there is the requirement of a dish antenna and UHF antenna to be connected to the combo set top box.

In as much as the education on the migration is still on-going, time is very limited because after digital switchover, analogue transmitters will be switched off and analogue sets would be unable to receive television programmes without a set top box.

Therefore if a consumer is unable to acquire a set top box or an integrated digital TV one cannot access TV programmes.

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