June 2015 Digitalization Broadcast Deadline Sacrosanct

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As the nation moves closer to the June 2015 deadline for migration from terrestrial to digital broadcasting, the National Broadcasting Commission insists that the date remains sacrosanct

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Sep. 8, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

THE June 2015 deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, for television stations to migrate from analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television, DTT, remains sacrosanct. The National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, says it is keen on meeting the deadline. With this deadline, Nigeria and the countries around the world have barely 10 months left to go digital.

Addressing operators at a breakfast session jointly organised by Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria, ADVAN, and Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria, MIRAN, in Lagos recently, Emeka Mba, director general, NBC, said after the ITU deadline, there would be no more international support for analogue spectrum as any operator still operating on the platform would be technically hedged out.

On the steps taken by the federal government so far to actualise the ITU vision, Mba said the government had finalised and harmonised discussions over the transmission network parameters with all Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, member states. He said specifications for the Basic Set Top Box and Digital Television Receivers had been finalised with other countries in the sub-region.

According to him, broadcasters would be responsible for the content while a signal distributor or carrier would be saddled with transmission of the signals to viewers. Apart from the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, the NBC boss said the federal government would licence two other signal carriers for optimum benefit for viewers across the country.

Meanwhile, the federal government has begun the process of licensing the second signal distributor. Mba also disclosed that the focus of the NBC “is that ensuring more broadcasting services are created such that the current gaps in the industry are effectively addressed. Our focus at the NBC is promoting more broadcasting services to fill current gaps in content and services such as themed channels, special interest channels, educational and children’s channels, regional channels as well as new HD services,” he said.

According to Mba, the regulatory body would encourage interoperability through the use of open standards as well as credible audience measurement and advertising. However, he identified deep collaboration among the existing analogue broadcasters, advertisers, regulators, content producers and government as a necessary yardstick for the success of the ITU initiative.

Speaking at the occasion, Tolu Ogunkoya, president, Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria, acknowledged that digitalization of the industry would bring real transformation in the nation’s broadcast industry in terms of content development, quality service and job creation. According to him, the ITU initiative would definitely herald a new era when operators will be open to keen competition. His words: “For me, this is the start-off of the relationship. There is definitely going to be a transformation.”

Hamadoun Toure, ITU secretary general, recently said that the June 2015 deadline was agreed on by all the 193 members of the organization, which consist of government as well as 70 private sector members. “We knew it was doable when we set the migration deadline in 2005. The benefits of the migration to both consumers as well as broadcasters are also enormous.” He stressed that the migration would lead to freeing up of about one-third of frequencies which could then be used for the provision of other services.

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