By Emma Okonji
In order to forestall what happened in 2012, 2015 and 2017, when Nigeria serially missed out in its 11 years plan to switch from analogue broadcasting to digital broadcasting, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), has commenced the digital mapping of Nigeria, a process that will facilitate the phased switchover to digital broadcasting.
The process is said to be in line with the federal government white paper on the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, after June 2019.
The Director General, NBC, Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, who disclosed this to journalists in Abuja recently while briefing them on the progress of the country’s digital switchover (DSO), said: “As part of acceleration of the work, we have commenced the digital mapping of Nigeria. It is a process that would help to give clarity to the entire DSO process.”
The journey towards the digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting, started in June 17, 2006, after Nigeria had signed international and regional agreements to conclude digital migration by June 17, 2012.
However, Nigeria, in 2012 missed out in the digital switchover process for lack of preparation on the part of government. A new date of June 2015 was chosen, but again Nigeria missed it for paucity of fund. Another date, June 17, 2017 was again chosen for the switchover, which the country equally missed.
Despite missing out severally on DSO, Kawu however said so much have been achieved in the entire process, even though enough cities have not been covered, till date.
According to him, “June 17, 2017, was a mere benchmark date for the digital switchover in our country. Our mission remains constant: to switch off analogue completely when we achieve up to 95 percent access to free digital television content across our country.”
Kawu said in order to speed up the process of DSO, two more states, namely Kaduna and Kwara were switched on at the end of 2017, bringing it to four, the number of states already switched on. Enugu State was switched on recently and we also switched on Osun State February 12. The plan is to switch on six more, one each from the six geo-political regions during this year, he said.
He explained that the second national signal distributor, Pinnacle Communications Limited, has moved to site in Delta state, and also packed up for work in Gombe state.
At the Abuja briefing, Kawu also said NBC has submitted a long list of new radio and television stations to President Muhammadu Buhari, for presidential assent. The President has always been encouraging the NBC to open up access for Nigerians to be able to register newer radio and television stations, because of his belief that they will help to deepen democratic discourse, while also helping to create new jobs through the broadcasting value chain, he said.
Kawu advised broadcasters and all stakeholders in the DSO process, to ensure that they give their full support to enable the country achieve its digital switchover dream. He therefore warned broadcasters in particular to ensure ethical broadcast of contents, especially as the county approaches the electioneering year in 2019.
According to him, “It is time to remind our broadcasters, that as we approach the electioneering period, stations must do everything professional to promote democracy. Broadcasters are reminded that they have a duty to respect all extant laws related to the reportage and coverage of the electoral process. Don’t broadcast campaigns when the period for commencement of campaigns have not reached.
“We are disturbed by the pattern of insensitive and inflammatory broadcasts emanating from some broadcast stations, especially in their coverage of national crises, like the herdsmen/farmer crises. We have observed that some stations deliberately and repeatedly air very inciting contents long after the events break, and we have warned stations that they must follow the tenets of the broadcasting code.
“Having warned broadcasters, we shall follow up with appropriate sanctions should any station continue to violate the broadcasting code.”