News

September 17, 2015

NBC secures N34b fund for digital switchover

NBC secures N34b fund for digital switchover

BRIEFING: From left; Director, Public Affairs, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Awwalu Salihu; Director General, Mr. Emeka Mba and Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Mrs. Maimunna Jimada; , during a world media briefing on the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Nigeria, by the Commission, in Lagos, yesterday. Photo by Kehinde Gbadamosi.

By Emeka Aginam
LAGOS—Although Nigeria  could not meet the  June 17, 2015 deadline of transiting to digital terrestrial broadcasting set by the International Telecommunications Union, there are  positive signals that the  transition is possible.

 Reasons: The Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Emeka Mba in a press conference  yesterday disclosed that the Commission had secured  34 billion naira  slightly less than 50% of the initial estimated budget of seventy billion naira.

BRIEFING: From left; Director, Public Affairs, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Awwalu Salihu; Director General, Mr. Emeka Mba and Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Mrs. Maimunna Jimada; , during a world media briefing on the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Nigeria, by the Commission, in Lagos, yesterday. Photo by Kehinde Gbadamosi.

BRIEFING: From left; Director, Public Affairs, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Awwalu Salihu; Director General, Mr. Emeka Mba and Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Mrs. Maimunna Jimada; , during a world media briefing on the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Nigeria, by the Commission, in Lagos, yesterday. Photo by Kehinde Gbadamosi.

How the fund was raised

The fund, according to the NBC boss was  raised by the commission after successfully licensing  MTN Nigeria Ltd to use a part of the 700 MHz to provide digital pay TV broadcasting services.

According to Mba, NBC as part of the roadmap to Digital Switch Over, DSO, has coordinated another agreement with the  West  African neighbours and have agreed on a new deadline of June 20, 2017 to complete the digital switchover and achieve analogue switch off.

Even though the government  was to   provide both direction and financial support to enable the country meet the high expense elements of the transition, Mba assured that, “With the current arrangement through which we have secured more than half of our budgetary needs to transit, and as we explore other avenues, we are confident that the new date is achievable”.

It would be recalled that the Commission had budgeted seventy billion naira for successful transition to DSO but was unable to secure it from  government because of lack of available fund. As a result, the government had to cut the budget to fifty billion.

Nigeria points the way for African countries

Through this singular move, Nigeria  he said has once again pointed the way for other African countries struggling with the effort of finding financing for their own digital switchover programmes.

“It was not until June 17, 2012 that the White Paper giving direction to the process came out. Again, we continued doing those things we could which included engaging and sensitising the broadcast sector, setting out the technical specifications for the set top box and putting in place then Electronic Programme Guide system, in addition to a successful pilot project in Jos, Plateau State.  “All this while we were waiting for the financing of our budget of 70 Billion Naira from Government.

“When it became obvious that government could not spare the money, and in order to avoid missing another deadline, we began to consider other options”he said.

Way forward to transition Set top boxes

According to Mba, off-shore mass production and delivery of initial subvented boxes for Jos pilot project is envisaged to be completed by end of October, while the local manufacture of the set top boxes is expected to begin in April 2016.

Signal transmission infrastructure

The critical activities for this segment, he said  included  publishing the RFP, concluding the national signal mapping, awarding the transmission MDAs, designating the ITS for Jos and beginning live digital transmission. We  plan to be done with these by the end of December, 2015, he added.

 Pay TV DAF  cash

As part of efforts to ensure the sustainable funding of the national digital terrestrial infrastructure, the government, according to the NBC boss  approved a fixed annual service charge payable on all DTT set top boxes and TV sets, this fee known as the Digital Access Fee (DAF) shall also be paid by all current operators on the DTT spectrum.

Channels RFP

By the end of December 2015,  he said that NBC  intended  to have, through due process allocated the Freeviewlicences and launch  the Jos pilot channels.

CAS/data centre

“This is part of the brain box of the nation’s digital operations.  In this segment we plan to have the building works, the commissioning of the data centre mother integration of the headed and the live deployment of the Central Authentication Service by the first week of November”, he explained.

 Contact centre set up

By the end of November 2015, Mba said that NBC plans plan to complete the process of setting up the Contact Centre, which becomes available for all enquiries from members of the public regarding the implementation of the DSO

 DSO long term economic impact

When fully completed,  Nigeria’s self funding of DSO programme is expected to creates three hundred and twenty billion pa win-win-win for, consumers, receive over 30 new free to air channels per annum for the price of a N1,500 STB and a  host of value added services such as news, information and video on demand.

With optimism, he said that a new leading digital economy  will be established from   the development of a whole TV and content ecosystem,  two hundred billion per annum boost from additional advertising, content and Nollywood income streams and development of   of high tech STB manufacturing industry.

With this, government , he said  is expected  to receive one  hundred billion  income from spectrum sales as well as a  thriving digital economy generating at least fifty five thousand  highly skilled jobs.