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Nigeria Misses Digital Switch-Over Deadline

Nigeria could not beat the digital television migration June 17, 2017 deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), which is responsible for activities relating to broadcasting in the country, has blamed the inability of the country to meet the digital television migration deadline which in two days time on lack of political will and non-availability of funds.

Prior to the June 17, 2015 deadline, former NBC Director-General, Emeka Mba, disclosed that the country would need about N60 billion for the project to scale through.

According to a source in the commission, “We failed to meet the target. NBC did its part. We put things in order with the expectation of that other things, especially fund to actualise the project would be released. But unfortunately, not much came to us for that purpose.

“As at today only some few people in Jos, Abuja and some pay television operators are digital. That means very few Nigerians have access to digital television service.”

On April 30, 2016, the Federal Government took a pragmatic step by launching the pilot scheme of switchover from analogue to digital television in Jos, Plateau State and later Abuja after the country failed to meet the June 17, 2015 deadline set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), for the migration.

The launch has been described as determining point for the digital service to cover the entire length and breadth of the country by the June 17, 2017 deadline after missing two previous switchover deadlines.

Some features of the digital television migration include high quality sound and high-resolution picture, which are equal, if not superior to any in the world.

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As a way to fast-track the coverage of the digital migration, the Information Minister disclosed that after importing the first set of boxes, all licensed Set Top Box manufacturers have been mandated to establish manufacturing companies in Nigeria to produce the boxes locally.

The Federal Government is giving out, free of charge, the 200,000 boxes for the pilot phase, while the Plateau State Government has agreed to buy 300,000 boxes for their citizens.

The minister disclosed that government is targeting 30 million viewers across the country; a development he said will make Nigeria the biggest Free TV market in the world.

All the efforts of the government to meet the deadline have proven to be yield low result.

According to some analysts, there is need to have apply concerted effort to bring the digital switch over a reality. They also noted that the project might have not being factored into the previous budgets and even the recently passed 2017 budget.

ITU digital broadcasting plan covers 116 countries (mainly in Africa and Europe) and was agreed for the frequency bands 174–230 MHz and 470–862 MHz at the ITU Regional Radiocommunication Conference (RRC‑06) in Geneva in June 2006.

The digital television process began in 2006 under former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration through to former presidents Umaru Y’adua, and Goodluck Jonathan’s governments.

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