As Nigeria yet again missed the 17 June, 2017 deadline slated for the switch over from analogue to digital broadcasting in the country, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has said it will only be able to cover 12 states in the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project by December 2017.
This was just as the NBC said the country needs 32 million Set Top Box (STB) for it to switch from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting.
The Director-General of NBC, Mr Ishaq Kawu, made this known during a news conference on Digital Switch Over (DSO) held in Lagos, last week.
Kawu said that following the successful switch over in Abuja in December 2016, the commission planned to switch over in one state in each of the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.
He said that the next phase of the project would be Kaduna in the Northwest; Gombe in the Northeast; Kwara in North Central; Osun in Southwest; Delta in South-South and Enugu in Southeast.
“At our last stakeholders’ meeting last week, the decision was taken to launch in Ilorin, Kwara state by the end of June; Kaduna by the beginning of July.
“These follow the completion of the installation of the transmission facilities in these locations, and subsequently, we would launch Osogbo in Osun; Enugu in Enugu states; and then Delta as well as Gombe states.
“So, as we conclude the six states currently in progress, we would choose another set of six states reflecting the geo-political zones, for the next phase, until the entire country is completely covered.
“We have proceeded with the faith that the DSO is just too vital to our national progress and should not face any more delays,” he said.
The DG said that the June 17, 2017 deadline was just a ‘benchmark date’ for the digital switch over in the country.
He said that many had misconstrued the process, assuming that on that date, almost like a magic wand, Nigerians would wake up to find that the country had switched off analogue and switched on digital television.
According to him, NBC’s mission remains constant, which is to switch off analogue completely, by achieving up to 95 per cent access to Free Digital Television content across the country.
He said that the DSO process was a huge financial, technical and logistical challenge.
According to him, switching on 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 totalled the sum of 26 million dollars.
“Thankfully, President Muhammadu Buhari, who had always been convinced of the importance of Nigeria’s DSO process, finally approved release of the seized sum of N10 billion to the NBC. That took place in September 2016,” he said.