By Emmanuel Elebeke
Worried about the lacklustre and inactive performance of some key stakeholders in the Digital Switch Over, DSO, project, the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, has read a riot act to all the Set Top Box manufacturers to deliver or risk punitive sanctions.
The Commission was particularly disturbed that seven out of 13 authorised STB manufactures are yet to set up their factories for the manufacturing of the boxes, six years after issuance of the licences.
Director-General of the Commission, Mr. Modibbo Kawu, who expressed the reservation, said there were pressures by other interests that also want to be part of the production process, describing the failure of the seven STB licensees as worrisome.
“The nation has come to the stage of the transition that we must ask ourselves what the real state of the manufacture of Set Top Boxes is. As it is, the Commission would no longer condone any act of indolence on the part of the STB manufacturers that constitute a clog in the wheel of progress of the DSO.
“Already, questions are being asked. STBs are perpetually in short supply or are unavailable, even in the cities where we have launched. I am inundated with daily enquiries from all over the country about the non-availability of boxes; these are boxes that we paid for which should have been supplied, instead, they bring them to locations of launches to sell, which is most unethical.
We are considering the authorisation of more players to augment the apparent lack of capacity to fill demand. We cannot continue dual illumination or simulcast forever, because the cost is choking.”
On remedying the situation, Kawu disclosed: “We are considering the authorisation of more players to augment the apparent lack of capacity to fill demand. Two things would be the basis of such authorisation.
First, they have to get production capacities up to a reasonable level within a mutually agreed timeline and secondly, whoever is eventually authorised to produce boxes would do so, on the condition that they must set up production plants within Nigeria, in line with our national objectives of jobs creation and technology transfer.”
He said NBC is ready to hear from the STB licensees and dissect their challenges with a view to addressing them, “The Commission is determined to tackle the funding challenge head-on by seeking the intervention of the Bank of Industry, BoI.We are here to listen to you and to hear your challenges, so that we can collectively chart a future.
“We are interested in knowing how far you have gone with the plan to deploy a second conditional access system. BoI will give insights on how we can finance our businesses, if we are truly committed to the production of STBs for the Nigerian DSO. This is vital, since it has become clear to all stakeholders, that there might be no more funding for the supply of subsidized boxes,” Kawu said.