With 10 months left for the deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for television stations in Africa to migrate from analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television (DTT), the regulatory body, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), has said the June 2015 deadline is sacrosanct.
Addressing operators at the Breakfast Session jointly organized by Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) and Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIRAN) in Lagos on Friday, Mr. Emeka Mba, the Director General (DG) of 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.
The ITU Secretary General, Dr Hamadoun Toure, recently said that the June 2015 deadline was agreed on by all the 193 members of the organizations, which consists of governments as well as 70 private sector members. His words: “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.” According to him, 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.
On the steps taken by the Federal Government so far to actualise the ITU vision, Mr. Mba disclosed that the government had finalized and harmonized discussions over the transmission network parameters with all ECOWAS member states. He said specifications for the Basic Set Top Box and Digital Television Receivers had been finalized with other countries in the sub-region.
Unlike now when there is no separation of functions in the Broadcast Industry, the DG disclosed that the reverse would be the case under the proposed era. 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.
Mr. Mba disclosed that the focus of the NBC is ensuring more broadcasting services are created such that the current gaps in the industry are effectively addressed. His words: “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.
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, Mr. Tolu Ogunkoya, President, MIPAN acknowledged that digitization 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.”
Similarly, Mr. Kola Ayeni, the President of ADVAN said he was aware of the prevailing scarcity of spectrums in the country; assuring that digitization would help to address the issue.