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Mba, Nigeria’s broadcast regulator: New digital switch over date is achievable

Mba, Nigeria’s broadcast regulator: New digital switch over date is achievable
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YOU were all witnesses to our helplessness when on June 17, 2015 we had to eat the humble pie and admit to the whole world that Nigeria could not meet that deadline of transiting to digital terrestrial broadcasting set by the International Telecommunications Union.
On that day we copiously explained how much work we had done since June 2006 when the deadline was announced, using our meagre recurrent resources while waiting for government to provide both direction and financial support to enable us meet the high expense elements of the transition.
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.
Meanwhile, we have now coordinated another agreement with our West African neighbours and have agreed on a new deadline of June 20, 2017 to complete the digital switchover and achieve analogue switch off.

[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Emeka Mba, GD of NBC”]“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.” [/blockquote]

 

Mrs Maimuna Jimada, Deputy Director of Public Affairs, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) (left); Mr Emeka Mba, Director-General of NBC and Mallam Awwalu Salihu, Director, Public Affairs NBC at the media briefing held today in Lagos. Photo by Kolade Akinola/Technology Times
Mrs Maimuna Jimada, Deputy Director of Public Affairs, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) (left); Mr Emeka Mba, Director-General of NBC and Mallam Awwalu Salihu, Director, Public Affairs NBC at the media briefing held today in Lagos.       Photo by Kolade Akinola/Technology Times
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. Our broadcast frequency, which is to eventually form part of the digital dividend after the DSO, had portions of it laying fallow while our broadcasters were still using parts of it. We therefore proposed and got proper permission from government to license part of our spectrum laying fallow and to use the proceeds to finance the DSO.
Gentlemen of the Press, I’m pleased to inform you that we have successfully licensed MTN Nigeria Ltd to use a part of the 700 MHz to provide digital pay TV broadcasting services. We have thus raised 34 Billion Naira, slightly less than 50% of our budget. I am pleased to inform you, also, that through this singular move, Nigeria has once again pointed the way for other African countries struggling with the effort of finding financing for their own digital switchover programmes.
It may be necessary to clarify that the use of the band, 470 – 862MHz solely for UHF Television Broadcasting Service on a primary basis in Nigeria predates both the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). As a matter of fact most Administrations in ITU Region 1use the entire 470 – 862 MHz for UHF Television Broadcasting prior to ITU WRC-2007 conference.
In 2006, ITU planned the entire 470 – 862MHz frequency band for Digital UHF Television Broadcasting for ITU Region 1 to which the Nigerian Administration belongs.  As a matter of fact, the planning of 470 – 862MHz frequency band for Digital UHF Television is referred to in the ITU circle as GE-06 Plan and after the Signing of the Agreements resulting from this Plan it is now referred to as the GE-06 Agreement.

[blockquote cite=”Emeka Mba, GD of NBC”]“I’m pleased to inform you that we have successfully licensed MTN Nigeria Ltd to use a part of the 700 MHz to provide digital pay TV broadcasting services. We have thus raised 34 Billion Naira, slightly less than 50% of our budget. I am pleased to inform you, also, that through this singular move, Nigeria has once again pointed the way for other African countries struggling with the effort of finding financing for their own digital switchover programmes.” [/blockquote]

Emeka Mba, Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)
Emeka Mba, Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)
This should clear any doubts as to where these frequencies belong until after the completion of the digital switch over.
It is now, also, my pleasure to announce to you the new switchover critical milestones ahead of us and our planned timelines for achieving them:
Set Top Boxes
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 include publishing the RFP, concluding the National Signal Mapping, awarding the transmission MDAs, designating the ITS for Jos and beginning live digital transmission; and we plan to be done with these by the end of December, 2015.
Pay TV DAF Cash
As part of efforts to ensure the sustainable funding of the national digital terrestrial infrastructure, the government 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, we intend to have, through due process allocated the Freeview licences and launched 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 head end and the live deployment of the Central Authentication Service by the first week of November.
Contact Centre Set Up
By the end of November 2015, we 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: Nigeria’s self-funding DSO programme creates a N320 billion pa win-win-win for:
  • Consumers:
    • receive over 30 new free to air channels per annum for the price of a N1500 STB
    • And a host of value added services such as news, information and video on demand
    • A leading digital economy is established from:
    • the development of a whole TV and content ecosystem
    • N200bn p/a boost from additional advertising, content and Nollywood income streams
    • Development of high tech STB manufacturing industry
Government:
  • receives N100bn income from spectrum sales (digital dividend)
  • N30bn p/a boost from the digital dividend
  • News and information channel to 20m+ homes
  • A thriving digital economy generating at least [55,000] highly skilled jobs

I want to conclude by assuring you all 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.

  • Excerpt of press briefing by Emeka Mba, Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), on Nigeria’s journey on the Digital Switch Over (DSO) held today in Lagos.

 

 

 

 

 

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