THE National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, is targeting to switch over 80 percent of Nigerians on Free-to-Air television services to digital services before the June 20, 2017, deadline. It is also discussing with some companies in Nigeria to produce Set Top Boxes equipment that will enable enhance the digital switchover.
Emeka Mba, director general, NBC, in statement published on the commission’s website on January 6, said that by 2017, more than 80 percent of Nigerians that depend on free-to-air television services would be given adequate coverage before the final switchover. “We cannot afford to leave anyone behind. Indeed, we are not leaving anyone behind,” Mba said.
Plateau state which the commission used as pilot already had full digital signal coverage. Mba, however, recognised that the large majority of the people who receive free-to-air television were yet to be on digital and could not afford digital television sets, nor subscribe to pay platforms.
According to him, they will need Set Top Boxes, STB, to enable them enjoy the digital experience. He said the commission had, therefore, put in place a strategy for securing STB, which would enable everyone join the digital platform. “Our STB strategy is to manufacture it here in Nigeria. In that regard, we are already working with 18 Nigerian companies which are at various stages of starting local production of STB. This will not only provide the needed equipment, but will also provide badly needed jobs for Nigerians.
“However, the first batch will be manufactured offshore, in order not to further delay the transition. Plateau State is almost ready for deployment, and we are already looking to the next set of states that will join the digital platform. We are at the same time encouraging the development of the digital platforms through the Pay TV services, now available in about 32 cities across Nigeria.”
Mba said the NBC will start its public enlightenment this month. He said the commission would carry out grassroots campaigns to make sure that people were adequately and accurately informed of the change that was coming.
He said Nigerians had been given detailed explanation on why the commission could not meet the International Telecommunication Union’s June 17, 2015 deadline. The ITU had set June 17, 2015 for the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting. But Nigerian’s inability to meet the deadline was largely due to lack of funding. “But we have also seized the initiative by working with our neighbours in the ECOWAS. ECOWAS are also looking up to us for leadership and partnership and we have agreed on a new Digital Switchover, DSO, deadline of June 20, 2017. We in Nigeria are working day and night to meet this new deadline.
— Jan 18, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT