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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nigerians decry NBC’s digital migration plan

Despite the fact that Nigeria has abandoned the African digital migration date of June 2012 and queue-up with the global deadline of 2015, there is no known digital migration awareness or campaign.

Stakeholders across the Information, Communication and New Media Technologies who commented on what they know about the digital migration plans for the country, all agreed they have not heard any campaign so to say from the supposed driver of the digital migration project, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

A vast majority of respondents stated ‘No’ they are not aware Nigeria has any digital migration a few others heard about it previously but were not in the know what the plans are now, just as many others were not aware the digital migration date for Nigeria has been shifted to 2015.

For the Executive Director at Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan, thank God there is a new ministry now and brand new minister also to man it in the person of Mrs. Omobola Johnson.

According to him, issue bordering on digital migration for the country is one that the new minister must take-up holistic if there is any mark to be recorded before her leaving the office and for the nation to record some progress by the year 2020 as being professed.

“And please remind NBC that 2015, the year that we agreed with the rest of the world to switch over to digital broadcasting, is only three years and 6 months away,” he said.

He pointed out that if Nigeria intends to make a mark before the deadline for switch over, plans must be set rolling to support the economics of average Nigerian, especially the youths who would like to be fully part of this digital era with policies supportive of a climate of innovation.

This, he said, would entail “... Graduate with business plans and not only CVs to run with the vision,” insisting that there is absolutely no reason why Nigeria’s ICT sector could not do up to 10 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as non-oil contribution by 2025.

“Madam Minister, it’s time to connect the dots,” he declared.

Equally speaking recently at the conference on Journalism and New Media Technologies in Africa, the former Director-General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Mr. Ben Egbuna, expressed displeasure on the manner NBC has been running the campaign on digital migration if any.

He noted that broadcasters and consumers alike do not have the basic information required for smooth transition less than three years to the national analogue switch-off date.

“Broadcasters in the country are not mobilised or galvanised for the digital project, little wonder many are ignorant even of the 2012 date and have not begun to address the ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘where’ and ‘who’ of the transition process,” he lamented.

Egbuna who expressed concerns over the slow preparation for digital broadcasting migration in Nigeria with no visible practical steps towards actualisation, enjoined the government to learn from the experience of other countries that began early digital migration and found the analogue switch-off date unachievable because of low consumer switch-over capacity, citing Australia as an example which has now moved its own date to 2019.

Also, Egbuna decried the sole management of the digital transition project by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), a government agency and the exclusion of key stakeholders like broadcast companies.

ITRealms Online recalls that the National Broadcasting Commission is a parastatal of the Federal Government empowered to regulate the broadcasting industry by Act no. 38 of 1992 as amended by Act no. 55 of 1999.

This mandate came in line with the recommendations of the Committee on National Mass Communications Policy, promulgated by the enabling decree on August 24, 1992, which amendment has been adopted as Acts of the National Assembly numbers 38 and 55 in line with our present democratic status.

Currently under the leadership of Mr. Yomi Bolarinwa as the Director General of NBC, the Commission’s responsibilities consist of advising the federal government, on the implementation of the National Mass Communication Policy, with particular reference to broadcasting, as well as licensing Cable, Direct-to-Home (DTH), and all terrestrial radio as well as television services.

Also, the Commission is responsible for undertaking research and development in the broadcast industry, upholding the principles of equity and fairness in broadcasting and establishing and disseminating a national broadcasting code while also setting standards with regards to the contents and quality of materials broadcast, bulk of these are yet to be seen by Nigerians.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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