Federal, state and private broadcast stations are intensifying efforts to meet up with the newly set deadline by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting but there are still roadblocks, Nigeria Communications Week can report.
The country moved away from its self imposed deadline of June 17 this year to January 1, 2015 just months away from the June 17, 2015 deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Several inhibiting factors including lack of enabling laws; funds; poor infrastructure; and a general lack of preparedness on the part of operators forced the country to make a volte-face on its earlier scheduled deadline.
Maimuna Jimada, acting head of Public Affairs at NBC expressed hopes that all terrestrial television stations in the country would successfully exit analogue broadcasting.
“Nigeria is still on course with the digitization programme and we, at the National Broadcasting Commission are working closely with the stations,” she said.
Checks with some TV and radio stations showed different level of preparedness and while some are ready, a number of operators may not even meet the next three years deadline.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) in its white paper of the cabinet committee report on the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting in Nigeria recommended the licensing of both public and private broadcasting signal distributors to enable Nigeria join the rest of the world in digital broadcasting.
The council also directed the Ministries of Information, Communications Technology and Trade and Investments to work out the enabling environment for the manufacturer of the broadcasting signal distribution boxes locally.
The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) was recommended as the Public Broadcasting signal distributor in view of its 157 network transmission sites spread across the country.
The government agreed with the committee to set up multiple broadcasting signal distributors for the transitional period of three years which took effect from January 1, 2012 to January 1, 2015.
Nigeria Communications Week recalled that the journey to transition from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting began about five years ago when in November 2007, the National Broadcasting Commission at the 38th National Council on Information and Communications in Jos, Plateau State, briefed the council on the benefits of digitalization to the nation’s broadcasting industry and the need for Nigeria to explore the boundless opportunities availed by it.
Following the approval of the recommendations of the council, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in December 2007 approved that the commission set in motion and pilot the nation’s digitization programme towards the target date of June 17, 2012.
To actualize the mandate, the NBC has over the past five years initiated series of integrated strategies which were designed to enlist the support of key stakeholders in its efforts to move the broadcasting industry’s operational platform forward.