Digital Switch Over: NBC Optimistic about StarTimes’ Readiness

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By Emma Okonji

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), has expressed confidence in the readiness of StarTimes to move Lagos from analogue broadcasting to digital broadcasting by April 29, this year.

The Acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, raised the hope of government when he visited the StarTimes and ITS facilities in Lagos, recently, for on-the-spot assessment. Pleased with the required transmitters and other facilities that were put in place, Idachaba said the digital transition plan for broadcasting in Lagos, was on course.

Speaking after an inspection tour of digital transmitters at NTA Station, Channel 10, Tejuosho, Lagos, Idachaba said he was confident that the country would complete the digital rollout plan by 2022.
According to him, “Nigeria has taken a decision that we are continuing with the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.

“The journey practically began in 2016 with the pilot rollout in Jos. And a few years after, we have gone into phase two. Under phase two, Lagos, Port Harcourt and other cities will be switched on to digital TV.
“We are going to many other cities and following the rollout time table, we hope that by the end of 2022, we would have completed the digital rollout in Nigeria.

“This visit to the NTA premises in Tejuosho is in furtherance of this objective. We are glad that ITS Ltd has already installed DVB2 technology. We have seen that the installed capacity for DTT transmission is very high.
“I acknowledge the role of their partners, StarTimes and I think that between NTA and StarTimes, there is a great combined effort to ensure that the rollout happens in Lagos and other cities in Nigeria quickly.”
Idachaba further said the inspection was reassuring, adding that Nigeria has the technical and infrastructural capabilities to kick off in Lagos on April 29.

On the availability of set-up boxes, the DG said 13 indigenous companies have been licensed to produce set-up boxes “because we believe that it is also another strategy to transfer technology and create opportunities for manufacturing within the Nigerian market.”

He added: “Digital Switch Over is a revolution and it is also capital-intensive. All over the world, from America to the UK and many developed and emerging economies, the cost is massive.
“The federal government has also decided that the project itself, seeing how viable it is could also be self-sustained.

“So we are hoping that some of the component players will be able to go forward to generate their own funds to sustain the rollout but one must also acknowledge that the government has assisted greatly.

“Recently, the federal government approved N9.4billion for NBC to facilitate the DSO drive.”
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Acting CEO, NTA-Star TV Network, Alex Jian, said the company’s technical team would be ready to support the nation in transiting fully to digital TV.

“The NBC DG has a big strategy for DSO and NTA-StarTimes will cooperate very well with ITS Ltd to support this project. Our technical team is ready.

“We have already prepared ourselves for this switch over all over the country. On StarTimes’ plan to make digital-TV more accessible to Nigerians,” Jian said.