BON, Others Decry Debt Over Delayed Digital Switch Over Policy


Oluchi Chibuzor
The Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) has lamented the huge debt accrued by its members over lack of direction in the Digital Switch Over policy
In a letter to the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission by the acting Chairman, BON, Godfrey Ohuabunwa tagged “The Digital Switch Over (DSO) a Call for a Firm Time Table and Calendar of Activities,” the group urged the Director General to publish clear time table for activities particularly the Switch Off and Switch On dates for the various states of the federation as agreed at the last stakeholders’ meeting.

According to the letter, BON said her members had made financial commitments with heavy debt burden without any headway of when outstanding bills that would enable them meet financial obligations to their business partners would be cleared.

The letter reads, “The Director General is invited to note and recall the last stakeholders’ meeting which was convened at the instance of the commission to chart a new and purposeful course for the DSO and the far reaching resolutions that were arrived at.

“We are constrained to bring to your notice the increasing fears and concerns amongst key stakeholders within the DSO ecosystem which, if not properly handled may snowball and escalate into crisis of confidence.

“The DG may wish to note the commitment of BON and its members to the success of the DSO and their willingness to make sacrifices to support this cause. However, it is increasingly becoming more difficult to convince these critical players on the viability and security of their personal and economic investments owing to lack of clarity and timelines for the DSO.”

It added: “We recall the DG’s commitment and promise to take this matter further with the board to impress the significance of these issues to enable for quick resolution thus charting the course for greater activities. We wish to observe that a month has since passed without any information.”

The letter further reads that members have been providing service without any financial income and gain for service rendered.
“Meanwhile, on the strength of the assurances, members have undertaken enormous costs to meet the demands and challenges being envisaged. In particular, Broadcasters have been providing services without any financial income or gains.

“In the same vein, members of licensed STB manufacturers have gone ahead to manufacture boxes to support the Call for boxes to meet Market demands and likewise, Signal Distributors are crying under the yoke of heavy debt burden without a clear picture of when they will be paid outstanding bills to enable them meet financial obligations to their business partners.”

“Sir, the most worrying and disturbing is the threat by SES to withdraw its services thus denying the entire DSO project access to the Satellite services being anchored by SES. The implication of all these should be clear to all and thus the need to take steps to remedy an already precarious situation.

“As indicated earlier, we are committed to co -operate with the Commission to achieve a successful transition but we are constantly faced with a situation that does not engender confidence.

“The DG may wish to note that our relationship has far reaching legal implications with both the Commission and third parties with attendant consequences.
“In the light of the foregoing, we are therefore appealing to the DG to take all necessary steps to publish a clear time table for activities particularly the Switch Off and Switch On dates for the various States of the Federation as agreed at the last stakeholders’ meeting.”

It added: “We believe that this remains the only concrete step that will reassure the Public and the Business communities particularly our bankers that the DSO is on course and has the full backing of the federal government.
“We trust that you will heed this timely call to see that the DSO is propelled to greater success thus saving the federal government from avoidable embarrassment.”