Digital TV | Shape up or risk sanction, Nigeria tells Set Top Box makers

Digital TV | Shape up or risk sanction, Nigeria tells Set Top Box makers

Digital TV | Shape up or risk sanction, Nigeria tells Set Top Box makers

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The Federal Government says that Set Top Box (STB) manufacturers to deliver on the technology used for delivering signals to Digital TV consumers or risk punitive sanctions.

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) says that claims that seven out of 13 authorised STB makers are yet to set up their factories for the manufacturing of the boxes, six years after issuance of their licences, has been a disturbing issue for the the national broadcast industry regulator that is overseeing the Digital TV migration in Nigeria also known as Digital Switch Over (DSO).

Mr. Modibbo Kawu, the Director-General of the Commission, who issued the threat says that there were pressures by other interests that also want to be part of the production process, while describing the failure of the seven STB licensees as “worrisome.”

The NBC DG says “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.”

Mallam Is’haq Modibo Kawu, the new Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)
Mallam Is’haq Modibo Kawu, Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)

The NBC DG says “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.”

Reacting to reports unavailable STBs, Kawu explains that, “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.”

NBC is considering the authorisation of more players to augment the apparent lack of capacity to fill demand as the commission cannot continue dual illumination or simulcast forever, because the cost is choking, the DG says.

“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.”

To ensure the issue is addressed Kawu says that the broadcast regulator is ready to hear from the STB licensees and dissect their challenges.

“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 says.

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