Nigeria’s broadcast sector regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), has assured that the country will meet the next June next deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for television stations in Africa to migrate from analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television (DTT), adding that the date remained sacrosanct.
Mba spoke at a breakfast session jointly organised by Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) and Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIRAN) in Lagos at the weekend.
The country has less than ten months to meet the deadline. The NBC started pilot implementation of the project in strife-torn Jos, the capital of Plateau State.
Its Director General, Emeka Mba said after the ITU deadline, there would be no more international support for analogue spectrum as any operator still operating on the platform would have been technically edged out.
He said in pursuit of meeting the ITU deadline, the Federal Government had finalised and harmonised discussions over the transmission network parameters with all Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states.
According to him, specifications for the Basic Set Top Box and Digital Television Receivers had also been finalised with other countries in the sub-region to ensure a seamless transition.
He said contrary to the era where there was no separation of functions in the broadcast industry, there will indeed be separation of responsibilities under the new dispensation.
According to him, broadcasters would be responsible for content while a Signal Distributor or Carrier would be saddled with Transmission of the Signals to viewers.
Aside the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the NBC chief said the Federal Government would license two other Signal Carriers for optimum benefit for viewers across the country, adding that the Federal Government has begun the process of licensing the second Signal Distributor.
Mba said the focus of the NBC was on ensuring more broadcasting services are created such that the gaps in the industry are effectively addressed.
He said: “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.”
According to him, the regulatory body will encourage interoperability through the use of open standards as well as credible audience measurement and advertising.
ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Toure, said the June 2015 deadline was agreed upon by the 193 members of the organisation. This consist governments as well as 70 private sector members.
Toure said: “We knew it was doable when we set the migration deadline in 2005. The benefits of the migration exercise to both consumers as well as broadcasters are also enormous.”
He added that the migration exercise will lead to freeing up of about one-third of frequencies which can then be used for the provision of other services.
He however stressed the need for collaboration among existing analogue broadcasters, advertisers, regulators, content producers and government as a necessary yardstick for the success of the ITU initiative.
President, MIPAN, Mr. Tolu Ogunkoya, said digitisation 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 initiative would definitely signpost a new era for operators for open and keen competition. “For me, this is the start-off of the relationship. There is definitely going to be a transformation,” he said.
His ADVAN counterpart, Mr. Kola Ayeni, said he was aware of the prevailing scarcity of spectrums in the country; assuring that digitisation would help to address the issue.