NBC Apologises for Not Meeting Digital Broadcasting Switchover Deadline

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Emeka Mbah, DG, NBC

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The National Broadcasting Commission is asking Nigerians to forgive the commission for failing to meet the June 17, deadline for the global switchover to digital broadcasting

| By Anayo Ezugwu | Jul 6, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |

THE National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, has apologised to Nigerians for its inability to switch from analogue to digital terrestrial television on the June 17 deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union, ITU. Awwalu Salihu, director, public affairs, NBC, in a statement said that the federal government was working assiduously to speedily address issues that could emanate from signals interference from border towns within Nigeria, as failure to do so would attract sanction from the ITU.

He assured Nigerians that as disappointing as it might be, it is not without a fairly good shot at success. He said as the ITU holds an International symposium in November this year at its headquarters in Geneva, to take stock of the digital switchover worldwide, Nigeria will be among 52 other African countries that failed to meet the deadline. The main penalty Nigeria will face consequently is that analogue signals will receive no protection in the event of interference with or from digital signals from our neighbours, most of who are also unable to transit to digital. He, however, assured Nigerians that the hope of digital migration was not lost.

NBC has been working actively since 2006 to put all the building blocks of the transition in place. “The journey would have been completed if funding had been available. It is important, however, to state that the journey toward Digital Terrestrial Television has already started. At the moment, Nigeria has reached about 20 percent penetration of the 26 million TV Households, TVHH, in the country,” he said.

According to Salihu, the NBC has worked with DigiTeam Nigeria, to harmonise the minimum standards for set-top-boxes and the transmission standards for all member states of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. Nigeria has also completed the frequency re-planning, successfully done the coordination with our neighbours and have selected a second signal distributor.

He said the NBC has licensed a free view signals aggregator and had also selected 11 successful companies to manufacture set-top boxes in Nigeria. “The Commission has also put in place an EPG/STB control system to protect the investment of the local Set-top-box manufacturers. Our goal is to enable the evolution of a digital television ecosystem that not only transforms television and broadcasting in general. But also able to help bridge the digital divide, create jobs and grow our national economy.”

He also assured Nigerians that it would only switch off analogue signals when majority of Nigerians could receive digital signals. The commission promised to conclude the final stages of the switchover within 18 months as soon as funds are available. These final stages include: the acquisition and local production of the set-top-boxes, relocation of MMDS operators, buy-back of obsolete analogue transmitters and massive publicity.

The commission thanked stakeholders for their cooperation in the arduous journey, and appealed to Nigerians for their understanding. It also promised to do everything within its power to successfully take Nigerian broadcasting onto the digital level.

Also, Edward Amana, chairman, DigiTeam, in a statement, said the only way to escape ITU’s sanction, was for Nigeria to begin to address the issue of signals interference from border countries.

According to him, border counties to Nigeria that have already migrated from analogue to digital, are likely to get distorted broadcast signals from television stations located in border towns in Nigeria that will still be transmitting analogue signals. “If Nigeria had migrated to digital broadcasting on June 17, as directed by ITU, based on the regional agreement on digital switchover, which Nigeria signed in 2006, the next thing the country would have done is to shutdown all analogue television transmission stations, but since it was unable to meet up with the deadline, it then means that Nigerian television stations will continue to broadcast analogue signals until a time when the country is able to migrate.

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