Kotoko goalkeeper Kwame Baah kiss StarTimes camera

Despite the constant complaints of substandard TV coverage of the Ghana Premier League (GPL) from consumers, Kurt Okraku believes StarTimes deserve commendation for trusting in local football, to begin with.

In the process, he also took a dig at local Ghanaian media for not showing as much faith in the league to put as much money as the Chinese broadcaster did.

On an almost weekly basis, subscribers to the GPL coverage bemoan the general difficulty in watching the competition as compared to other African leagues.

“I will describe these as operational challenges,” the FA President told Joy Sports on Saturday. He referred to common complaints of uncomplimentary picture quality, difficulty in accessing games on public platforms, and general production issues.

StarTimes, a Chinese pay TV broadcaster, in 2020 reached a five-year agreement with the GFA to exclusively broadcast Ghana’s first-tier men’s league. Their successful bid was worth about $1 million per year.

Okraku, who said he watches GPL matches very regularly, was asked which adjectives he would used to describe the coverage.

“I don’t talk about adjectives. I talk about first of all being appreciative to StarTimes for investing $1 million a year in our sport, in a sport that had been maligned, in a sport that had big image challenges, in a sport that is operating in a small football economy,” the FA boss told Gary Al-Smith on the Joy Sports Link.

StarTimes is widely known to have two broadcast teams for GPL coverage, one for southern sector games and the other for the northern sector.

“Yes [there are operational challenges]. I have seen [the] two teams deliver coverage on the GPL. [The southern sector team] deliver quality content and the other team has challenges that are unfixed. The GFA have been communicating with them to ensure we get much better coverage especially with the second team. We will work with them to make their production a lot better.”

Al-Smith put it to the President that his willingness to make excuses for the broadcaster could be construed as thinking that StarTimes are doing Ghanaians a favour. This led to a swift reaction from the FA boss.

“They have given us the chance to see several talents play when most stations in Ghana failed or ran away from investing in domestic football. When the product was available, people [local investors] moved away from it. No other media outlet in Ghana believed in our football enough to invest the kind of money that StarTimes are investing,” he concluded.

This led to a back-and-forth with Al-Smith, who challenged the President’s assertion with the publicly known information that state broadcaster, GTV, also put in a bid. However, the President clarified that all things considered, StarTimes gave a better financial package and commitment than any other entity.

The Ghana Premier League restarted in November 2020 after its abrupt cancellation of the 2019/20 season.