By Emma Okonji
The Director-General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Modibbo Kawu, has retreated federal government’s commitment to complete the Digital Switchover (DSO) rollout plan in record time by rolling out in major Nigerian cities.
Kawu, who spoke to journalists in Lagos, during the Nigerian Telecom Leadership Summit 2019, which held in Lagos, said the Commission had already completed rollout in some cities, with plans to extend the rollout plan to other major cities of the country.
According to him, “The federal government is working on the possibility of releasing to the NBC, a total sum of N30 billion in two tranches of N15 billion each, to facilitate the rollout plan.”
He, however, said the NBC would repay the money from the resources that would come out from the leasing of frequencies.
He added that the current frequency that Globacom is using, which is on the 700MHz, would be auctioned, but that before the auction, Globacom would be given the first right of refusal and the funds that would be generated from the auction, would be used to accelerate the process of digital television rollout in Nigeria.
DSO is about the migration from analogue broadcasting to digital broadcasting.
Although Nigeria had in the past missed out her rollout targets, Kawu, however, clarified that the issue of meeting rollout deadline was no longer an issue because NBC has covered large percentage of its DSO rollout plan.
“The issue of trans-border frequency signals has been a challenge for most countries for DSO rollout and the trans-border frequency signals distortions are no longer challenges to us and we are far ahead of most African countries in terms of DSO rollout.
“What is important for NBC is to ensure that we can roll out in major cities across the country, and give Nigerians the opportunity to enjoy digital television streaming,” Kawu said.
He, further explained that the Commission had been involved in licensing a lot of new television channels in order to improve on the exciting 30 channels because the country do not still have dedicated channels for children, women and even dedicated sports channels.
“Digital television offers opportunities for Nigerian producers especially the younger generation to be able to go into television production, and we are going to create a national content development fund to assist the younger generation of Nigerian producers to be able to produce more programmes for digital television channels,” Kawu said.
Responding to issues of substandard and unethical advertisements on radio and television, Kawu added, “television and radio advertisements are regulated by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) and they ensure that there are certain basic standards and the NBC works closely with APCON to ensure that television and radio advertisements meet certain basic standards in Nigeria.”
On the issue of community radio licensing, Kawu said: “NBC is procession another group of community radio and we are very serious about community broadcasting.
“We are holding a conference on community broadcasting as well as campus broadcasting in June this year to address some of the challenges of community broadcasting. The licensees of community radio are supposed to use 250 kilowatts transmitters for broadcasting but some of them use lesser kilowatts transmitters which is against the standard of community broadcasting. Again some of the licensees of community broadcasting, tends to go beyond their licence coverage to run programmes on politics and other programmes outside the scope of their licence and we have to address all of these at the national conference that is coming up in June this year.”
The NBC called on all broadcasting stations to exercise restraint in the treatment of sensitive issues that could threaten the unity and stability of Nigeria.
The Commission enjoined broadcasting stations to be professional, and take guidance from the Nigeria Broadcasting Code at all times, reminding all broadcasters to be mindful of their social responsibility to promote the well-being and peaceful co-existence of the various groups in Nigeria in keeping with the objectives of broadcasting in Nigeria.