General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Dr. Yomi Bolarinwa
Transition to digital broadcast which is expected to free up frequency spectrums and which is expected to be completed by 2015 worldwide may suffer a setback in Nigeria if the project is not given the attention it deserves by the government and other stakeholders, experts have stated.
The experts, who included the Director- General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Dr. Yomi Bolarinwa, who spoke at a two-day Digital Dialogue Conference 2012, held in Lagos, lamented the delay in the release of the White Paper meant for the implementation of the digitalisation project and called on relevant authorities to put their hands on deck, saying it was not something to be handled with levity considering the gravity of its technical requirement.
According to him, “If Nigeria still continues with analogue by 2015, transition from neighbouring countries like Cameroon and Ghana can interfere with Nigeria’s system and create enormous problem in the broadcasting industry”
The Director-General confirmed the delay in the release of the White Paper but explained that the government has been working seriously to meet the deadline. To fast track the process, he stated that a group will soon be inaugurated by the government to drive the implementation process.
Bolarinwa said that over 44 million viewing homes in Nigeria would be affected by the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting in the next three years, stressing the need to hasten the process of compliance to avoid confusion.
He said the drive for digital broadcasting would ensure efficient use of available spectrum to drive convergences in technologies, enrich television contents.
A consultant in broadcast media, Mr. Edward Amana, said the White Paper, which was yet to be released provided the implementation framework for the digital transition and that a forum like the digital dialogue would gear-up government on its importance if Nigeria is keen about meeting the deadline.
“If by 2015, Nigeria decides to keep to its analogue system, there may be signal interference from other neighbouring countries that have switched over and if this happens, no regulator, international or regional, will listen to us and if on the basis of our decision not to switch, we interfere with others countries broadcasting space, we would be sanctioned. So, the best option is for us to switch over by 2015,” he said.
He urged the government to provide incentives for companies that will be involved in local contents production to drive the digital transition process, adding that capacity building on new engineering knowledge for digital broadcasting is critical.
An expert on Digital transition and arrow-head of the dialogue, Mr. Jenkins Alumona lamented that many Nigerians are yet to understand what the transition is all about and called on government and the media to rise up to the occasion to educate an average person on the street on its importance and the need for collaboration.
“A project like this needs not only the understanding of consumers but they must be seen to be buying into it. Advertising practitioners, broadcasting organisations and other relevant groups in Nigeria need adequate information and education for the project to fly as government alone cannot drive it,” he stated.
The Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mr. Bolaji Adebiyi, disclosed at the forum that Federal Government is ready to ensure that necessary measures are put in place to ensure that the June 17, 2015 set for transition from analogue to digital broadcasting for Nigeria is achieved.
Adebiyi said the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration places a lot of emphasis on policy and project contiunity and would keep faith with the digital transition project.
Much of Africa will by June 2015 risk its broadcasting services being interfered with or switched-off for failure to switch from analogue to digital broadcasting.
According to the Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association (SADIBA), such countries could also risk having poor mobile service receptions.