Wednesday, July 15, 2009

FG may subsidise cost of digital switchover

Federal Government may be considering subsidizing the cost of digital switchover by broadcasting stations in the country.

According to the Lagos State Zonal Director, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr. Olufemi Ayeni, this has become necessary as part of effort in meeting the 2012 digital switchover.

He also said government has taken this step to save broadcast stations the enormous cost of a transmitter by providing a unitary antenna in regions to beam signal code for their audiences to receive.

“Because it will not be cost-effective for individual stations to procure digital transmitters, the NBC is working with other interested stakeholders how we can have a unitary antenna, either in region or within the nation where stations can beam signals to for the audiences to receive. It is called the Multiplexer,” he said.  

He explained that a multiplexer is a transmitting device that receives and distributes signals and that this will enable the stations to concentrate on production. 

Ayeni who was optimistic that the 2012 date would be met, said that digitization is not new and that most stations in the country have already gone digital except in area of transmission.

“If you look at broadcasting, the issue of digitization is not new, if you go to virtually all the radio and TV stations in Nigeria they have digitized up to a level. Once upon a time it was Betacam, Betamax and U-matic. Before Betamax we were using reel-to-reel, one inch and two, after this some stations went to Super VHS.

Even when the home video started what we had were poor video and sound quality because they were using VHS machines but today things have changed, they have upgraded and gone for training and so you now see our home videos on digital satellite television (DStv),” he said.

Ayeni pointed out that what exists in the country today in terms of analogue are just the transmitters and that the studios are now digitized.

Further, he said, that digitization does not mean throwing away the present television sets but that with a converter an analogue TV can transmit digital signals.

“For the next 10-15 years there is no fear using your present analogue television, but you need a converter or you subscribe to a cable station to enable you receive the signals,” he explained.

The Lagos NBC boss equally advised those that could procure a digital TV to do so and be sure of what they have bought is digital-compliant, disclosing that in the coming months the processes for conversion will be made public which may include the subsidy from government to ameliorate the effect of the switchover, stressing that government is working seriously to ensure that the date is attainable.

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