NBC To Improve Access To Digital Television

Emeka Mba, Director General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), has revealed that about 22million households in the country does not have access to digital television as the country look forward to a new deadline of June 20, 2017 migration to digital broadcasting.

Mba affirmed that there are 37.3million households in the country out of which 26million has television and 4million with digital television subscription, adding that the Commission has acquired 500,000 set-top boxes for its digital broadcasting pilot in Jos, Plateau state.

“Nigeria will require about 30million set-up boxes in the next three years in covering the country, 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.

“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.”

“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 per cent of our budget. 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,” he said.

He explained 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 1 use 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.

This should clear any doubts as to where these frequencies belong until after the completion of the digital switch over,” NBC boss said.

He underscored the Commission’s plans for the switch over to include off-shore mass production and delivery of initial subvented set-top 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.

Commenting on the Signal Transmission Infrastructure, Mba said that, the critical activities for this segment include publishing the Request for proposal(RFP), concluding the National Signal Mapping, awarding the transmission Ministry Department and Agencies (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.


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