Again! Nigeria fails to meet deadline for digital switch over … As June 17 deadline approaches


AGAIN, Nigeria will not be able to meet the June 17, 2017, deadline of global transition from analogue to digital terrestrial transmission, DTT. Out of 36 states, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, NBC, has only launched the digital switch over, DSO, in two states, Plateau, Kwara and Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.

The NBC intends to roll out in Enugu, Gombe, Osun, Kaduna and Delta states in its next phase. With this development, it is obvious that the federal government cannot meet up with the June 17, DSO deadline set by the West African countries in 2015.

The NBC has blamed the failure on inadequate logistics and technology to carry out the roll out across the country. Modibo Kawu, director general, National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, said the commission expended $26 million to procure 620,000 set-up boxes for Nigerian homes. The procurement, he said is part of the digital switch-over of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA.

The NBC decided to embark on the switch-over in phases across the country because of its huge financial implications. “We are going to have it in phases because digital switch-over is a major challenge in terms of technology and logistics. The 620,000 boxes that we have procured for the first phase cost us $26 million, that is huge amount of money; considering that we have about 35 million homes in Nigeria.

“Each box is about $45 multiply that by 35 million homes. We are going to have signal systems across Nigeria. It is a very expensive process. Now we are going to six states in each of the geo-political zone. They are Kwara in the (North-Central), Osun (South-West), Gombe (North-East), Kaduna (North-West), Enugu (South-East) and Delta (South-South).”
On his part, Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said despite not meeting the deadline, Nigeria has gone many steps ahead of its peers in Africa on DSO television broadcasting. The minister said on Wednesday, April 5, in France, Nigeria showed that it was doing more than it was being appreciated in DSO and would not rest in its oars to achieve a total switch on.

“Another takeaway from here is that we have seen that we are doing more than how we are appreciated on the DSO especially among our peers because we have gone many steps ahead of many African countries. We have been able to appoint signal distributors, Set-Top Box manufacturers and we have rolled out in Jos and Abuja. We intend to roll out in Kaduna and three other states. However, we must see how we can build contacts and relationship that will enrich content production in accomplishing full digitisation,” he said.

Digital TV broadcasting offers many advantages over analogue systems for end-users, operators and regulators. Apart from increasing the number of channels, digital systems can provide new innovative services, such as interactive TV, electronic programme guides and mobile TV as well as transmit image and sound in high-definition, HDTV, and ultra-high definition, UHDTV. Digital TV requires less energy to ensure the same coverage as for analogue while decreasing overall costs of transmission. The more efficient use of radio spectrum brought on by digital TV also allows for the so-called digital dividend resulting from the freeing up of spectrum for use by other services, such as mobile broadband.

The federal government had on June 17, 2015, failed to meet the deadline of digital switch over as directed by the International Telecommunications Union, ITU. The NBC had on May 19, 2015 blamed the inability of the federal government to grant the commission’s request of N60 billion needed to fund the project as the major reason why the country could not achieve the digital switchover.

Nigeria’s journey towards the digital terrestrial television broadcasting started in June 17, 2006, and was expected to come to an end on June 17, 2015. In 2007, federal government approved the digital migration process, and through the NBC, set deadline of January 1, 2015, as the switch off date for the country.

A Presidential Advisory Committee on the transition was also inaugurated in 2008 with the mandate to come up with a recommended policy, regulatory framework and a broadcasting model for the process. The committee submitted its report in 2009, with several recommendations one of which was that the country would switch off its analogue broadcasting on January 1, 2015. Realnews


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