As Nigeria moves forward in the switch over from analog to digital transmission, the Federal Government says it is learning from the experiences of the United Kingdom.
The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, said this after meeting a team from the United Kingdom on Thursday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
The Minister explained that the essence of the meeting was for Nigeria to be enlightened on the basics of a successful digital switch over.
He added that following the successful take-off of the pilot scheme in Jos in central Nigeria, there would be a full roll over in the entire Plateau State and the Federal Capital Territory.
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had failed to keep to its promise that the June 2015 deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for the digital switch over was sacrosanct.
Former Director-General of the NBC, Mr Emeka Mba, had extended the switch over by 18 months, explaining that three years into the process of digitisation with zero allocation and myriads of challenges before the NBC such as aggregate content development, distribution and production and availability of set top boxes, the June 17 deadline was uncertain.
However, the pilot phase of the switch over had Kicked off in the Plateau State capital, signalling the beginning of the process which would spread across states.
Mr Mohammed noted observed that the broadcasting industry at the local, state and national levels was being revolutionised to provide viewers better visuals and sound quality.
The Federal Government has disengaged the heads of the six information-related parastatals under the Ministry of Information and Culture.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, announced the disengagement during a meeting he held with the Chief Executives of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Voice of Nigeria (VON), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) on Monday.
According to a statement signed by SA to the Minister, Segun Adeyemi, the Minister directed the disengaged Chief Executives to hand over to the most senior officials in their various establishments.
He thanked them for their service to the nation and wished them the best of luck in their future endeavours.
The affected Chief Executives are the Directors-General of NTA, Mr Sola Omole, FRCN (Mr Ladan Salihu), VON (Mr Sam Worlu), NOA (Mr Mike Omeri), NBC (Mr Emeka Mba) and the Managing Director of NAN (Mr Ima Niboro).
Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr Emeka Mba, has extended the switch over from analogue to digital broadcasting by 18 months.
The broadcasting regulatory body had already assured that the June 2015 deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for the digital switch over was sacrosanct.
With about a month to the deadline, Mr Mba explained that three years into the process of digitisation with zero allocation and myriads of challenges before the NBC such as aggregate content development, distribution and production and availability of set top boxes, the June 17 deadline is uncertain.
He noted that it took the United Kingdom a few attempts of about 14 years and nearly £6.4 billion to digitise broadcasting, stating that Nigeria need not take that much time if efficiently managed and with appropriate funding.
He said the Nigerian television industry is in the middle of a dramatic transformation, noting that digitisation cannot be forced.
The NBC boss noted that if forced, Nigeria would risk cutting off about 80% of its citizens, which would automatically kill the content market, as well as the advertising industry in the country.
By June 17, all analogue transmissions would lose the protection by the ITU, which may result in multiple interferences in transmissions across neighbouring countries.
However, Mr Mba said the inability to meet the deadline is not peculiar to Nigeria, adding that ECOWAS based contingency plans were set up to deal with the challenges that may arise.
With the extension of the deadline, the new date for the switch over will now December 2016.