The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Friday, gave insight into why it is no longer feasible to work with a deadline in the bid to achieve Digital Switch Over (DSO) in the broadcasting industry saying Nigeria will continue to miss the deadline as the challenges confronting the nationwide project still remain without solution insight.
Recall that the latest deadline for the ITU/ ECOWAS DSO project is Saturday JUNE 17, 2017 and Nigeria has for the third time in a roll failed to meet the deadline.
NewswatchNigeria gathered that Nigeria needs 32 million Set Top Box (STB) for it to switch from analog to digital terrestrial broadcasting. The number was arrived at by dividing 191 million Nigerians by six, which represented the number of a household.
Director-General of NBC, Mr. Ishaq Kawu during a news conference on Digital Switch Over (DSO) held in Lagos on Friday said that the DSO process was a huge financial, technical and logistical challenge.
According to him, the effect of switching, in a huge country like Nigeria requires tremendous financial commitment.
He said that an STB costs 45 dollars and the commission had made a commitment of eight million units which would amount to 26 million dollars.
According to him, the price is a huge cost for Nigerians hence, the Federal Government has to subsidise it to N1, 500 per STB.
“We are looking at 20 dollars per box so that it will be affordable. We are trying as much as possible to manufacture the boxes locally.
“Similarly, our Set-Top-Box manufacturers has committed resources to the importation of 850, 000 STBs from China.
“But because the EFCC had seized funds from the NBC under the ancient regime at the NBC, we cannot meet our commitment, which totaled the sum of 26million dollars.
“Thankfully, President Muhammadu Buhari, who had always been convinced of the importance of Nigeria’s DSO process, finally approved the release of the seized sum of N10 billion to the NBC. That took place in September 2016,” he said.
Kawu said that the DSO was successfully carried that out in Abuja in December 2016, offering in the process 30 local, regional and national channels to viewers.
He said that there was an upgrade to the 15 channels offered in Jos, Plateau, when the NBC launched the pilot phase of DSO in April 2016.
According to him, in 2016 alone, NBS achieved much more than it has been done in the lead to the deadlines of 2012 and 2015.
“It is also significant to let you know that we appointed a company known as The Outsource Company (TOC) as the call center managers for the switchover starting from Abuja.
“They commenced with appointing 30 call agents, but that was soon increased to 90.
“They work three shifts every day, in order to meet the demands of viewers who either want to activate their boxes or make complaints or inquiries.
“So far, a total of 745,480 STBs have been imported into the country; 566,478 have been delivered, while 485,409 have been sold and 332,095 were activated in Jos and Abuja,” he said.
The D-G said that NBS had continued to receive the tremendous support of the Federal Government, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
He said that to accelerate the progress of work, the commission was engaging with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
According to him, this is to ensure that the states can partner with the commission, especially in the procurement of Set-Top-Boxes.
“The engagement will ensure critical assistance for the installation of transmission systems by our signal distributors.
“The NBC and the stakeholders of the DSO process are committed to achieving the completion of the process.
“We will intensify publicity so that Nigerians can better appreciate the significance of the process, how far we have come and what more mileage needs to be covered.
“The DSO process is changing the face of television in Nigeria.
“We thank Nigerians for their continued support in our march to digitise broadcasting in Nigeria,” he said.