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NEW YEAR MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL, NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION – MR EMEKA MBA

  • December 31, 2015
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NEW YEAR MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL, NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION – MR EMEKA MBA

JANUARY 2016

 

I welcome you all to the New Year, 2016.

The year 2015 was a crucial year for Nigeria in many respects.  Without foreign assistance, we organized a successful, free, fair and credible general election, which led to a first ever, peaceful change of baton of governance from one political party to another.  It was also the year that Nigeria was declared polio-free by the World Health Organisation, and it was in this year that Boko Haram was severely degraded and routed and put on the run. And we won the Junior Football World Cup.

In all these, the broadcast industry played its part, and played it creditably. 

I want to use this platform to congratulate Nigerians, but particularly broadcasters for the positive role they have played in all these successes.  I want to further urge broadcasters to use their medium to create an engaging platform for the freedom of expression as well as to set the agenda for national discourse in a manner that promotes unity, tolerance and understanding of all shades of opinion. Broadcasters must remember that we are fighting a war against insurgency, and must not lend themselves to the propaganda of the enemies of our nation by sensationalising stories about them to the detriment of the morale of our gallant troops.

We have given Nigerians detailed explanation on why we could not meet the ITU’s June 17, 2015 deadline for the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting.  It was largely due to lack of funding.  But we have also seized the initiative by working with our neighbours in the ECOWAS, who were also looking up to us for leadership and partnership; and we have agreed on a new DSO deadline of June 20, 2017. 

We in Nigeria are working day and night to meet this new deadline.  Our target is that by that date, more than 80% of Nigerians that depend on free-to-air television services are given adequate coverage before the final switchover. We cannot afford to leave anyone behind. Indeed, we are not leaving anyone behind.

Our pilot state, Plateau State now has full digital signal coverage, but we recognise that the large majority of our people who receive free-to-air television are not on digital yet; neither affording digital television sets, nor subscribing to pay platforms. They will need set top boxes to enable them enjoy the digital experience.   We have therefore put in place a strategy for securing set-top boxes, which will enable everyone join the digital platform. 

Our set top box strategy is to manufacture it here in Nigeria.  In that regard, we are already working with 18 Nigerian companies, which are at various stages of starting local production of set top boxes. This will not only provide the needed equipment, but will also provide badly needed jobs fro Nigerians.  However the first batch will be manufactured offshore in order not to further delay the transition. Plateau state is almost ready for deployment, and we are already looking to the next set of states that will join the digital platform.  We are at the same time encouraging the development of the digital platforms through the Pay TV services, now available in about 32 cities across Nigeria.

We are starting our public enlightenment in January along with our grassroots campaigns to make sure that our people are adequately and accurately informed of the change that is coming.

Digital is by its nature disruptive.  It will disrupt the way we do television and the way we interact with television.  This means that the present rules and regulations as applied will need to also undergo some changes to make them more suitable in the new era.

Therefore, the need to have appropriate regulatory structure in place ahead of the digital switchover is very crucial. We have begun an early review of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and shall embark on securing necessary legislative backing to accommodate the anticipated changes in the digital era.  We are very confident of success.

I want to thank President Muhammadu Buhari, the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed and all our stakeholders in the industry for providing an enabling environment for us to thrive, and for their support for the success of the DSO. I also want to say thank you to the Board of Management and all staff of the Commission for their commitment and dedication to duty, without which we wouldn’t have made it this far.

I wish you all a prosperous and peaceful new year.

Thank You.

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