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  • February 15, 2016
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As preparations continue to heat up towards the launching of the pilot Digital Switchover (DSO), in Plateau State, attention was zeroed in on Information officers who will take the digitization message to the grassroots.

Accordingly, the National Broadcasting Commission held a two-day training workshop in collaboration with TYMAG Communications, for Information Officers in Plateau state in the move towards the Digital Switchover.

The Training workshop with the theme: “DSO: The Role of Information Officers,” featured several presentations.

In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the occasion and the Director General, NBC, represented by the Director, DG’s office, Dr. Armstrong Idachaba, warmly welcomed everyone present to the workshop. He thanked the Plateau State Government for its support towards a smooth transition in Plateau State since the Commission proposed the idea of Plateau state as the pilot state, and Jos, the Pilot city for the digital terrestrial television transition.

He expressed his delight at the attendance and the ability of the information officers, whom he noted, were carefully selected to participate. He expressed confidence at the capacity of the participants to further spread the message to the grassroots, where it is most needed.

The Director General explained that the Digital Transition was a technological innovation which promised a whole new TV experiences for Nigerians. “At the end of the day, the people at the grassroots, who will be the end users, will have to be equipped with how to manage the issues that would crop up,” he stated.

He pointed out that the digital phenomenon was one that comes with lots of opportunities. That was why people with wider technical knowledge were brought in to educate the participants on the entire gamut of the process.

The Director General implored the participants to take the workshop seriously and be prepared to spread the message of the digital transition to the people in their communities.

He thanked the Honourable Commissioner for Information, Plateau State, Hon. Nazif Ahmed, for hosting the NBC.

Presenting a paper titled, “Comparative Analysis of Analogue and Digital broadcasting,” Engr. Eddy Amana, Chairman DigiTeam Nigerian, painstakingly, detailed the differences between Analogue and digital Broadcasting and what digital broadcasting was all about. He talked about how digital broadcast signals could be received on an analogue television.

He stated further that to enable an analogue television receiver to receive digital signals, one needed a processor that would convert the signals from digital to analogue. “That intervening unit is the set-top-box,” he revealed.

Engr. Amana’s paper also focused on the advantages of digital over analogue television signals which he pointed out included more efficient use of the vary scarce spectrum; provide the opportunity for more entrants into the television industry, thus providing more jobs; providing multiple platform for content delivery, and so much more.

He spoke on how spectrum will be better put to use with the coming of digitization. Using Jos, Plateau state, as an example, he pointed out that "One TV station in Jos right now uses 8MHz for its transmission. This frequency will accommodate the four TV stations in Jos presently and have room for more.

“The digital dividend will create wealth for the country, and also assist in the achievement of the country’s broadband programme. In all of these, it would help to improve the social wellbeing of the populists,” he noted.

According to the Director, Technology, Federal Ministry of Information and Chairperson, Publicity sub-Committee of DigiTeam, Dr. Veronica Adeyemo, who presented a paper titled, ‘The digital switchover: Spreading the message,’  “migration from analogue to digital broadcasting requires enormous capital all over the world. No country has been able to do it without sinking in so much.”

She stressed the need for the Information officers to understand the issues that may arise from their interactions with the public. Where to buy the Set-Top-Box? How to operate the box?

“As an information officer, one is expected to have answers to the basic questions on DSO like, what is a set top box? What is the meaning of DSO? What is the switch over date? The digital message affects everybody. So as information officers, we should use all available media for disseminating the message of DSO.”

She noted that the success or failure of the assignment given to Information officers is hinged on the manner of approach to the campaign. And the value and commitment attached to the campaign from the officers would determine its success or failure. She charged the Information officers to be committed to this National project.

Speaking on the ‘Role of Information Officers in the digital Switchover in Nigeria’, Mallam Awwalu Salihu, Director Public Affairs, NBC, started by laying bare what he called the articles of faith of the transition. These he stated included:
- Digitisation has come to stay;
- Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind;
- Everyone has role to play;
- In order for this transition to succeed, we must all come together; and
- Information is key.

“When the rest of the world moves on, the problems, the dangers, the issues that will follow, when we are still analogue are many. Even the digital programmes or the digital systems that we have will not work because very soon we would run out of spare parts for your television sets, run out of spare parts for your transmitters, and most of the things that you are using in the Analogue era because no one is producing them anymore. So you can see that whether you like it or not, you cannot afford to be left in the digital darkness. Therefore, everybody: The general public, Government, the Regulators, the Broadcasters themselves, the Business community, and the Information officers, all have a role to play. And we must all play it successfully so as to achieve the goal of transiting,” he pointed out.

Mallam Awwalu identified Information officers as a crucial link in the DSO process. He stressed that Information officers must have the ability to lead. Noting that Information officers must be able to mobilize other people, able to direct other people, able to show other people the way to do certain things, and where to go for things.

Speaking further, he said that Information officers must be able to form a group and be able to work with the group, and lead the group. So leadership ability is key to an information officer.”

“As information officers you should be passionate, knowledgeable, information literate, up-to-date, have vision, be ready for change, inquisitive. You must be creative, a good organiser and vibrant”, he concluded.

The highpoint of the workshop was the presentation by Mr Rajiv Mekkat, CEO, Cable Channels Nigeria Limited (CCNL).He demonstrated for participants the functionality of the Set-Top Box (STB). Exhaustively, he explained the basic features of the STB detailing its advantages and method of operation.

Mr. Mekkat carefully showed participants how to connect the STB and what to expect after it was properly connected. He noted that there was a unique number which one needed to call to activate the STB after connection.

The Honourable Commission for Information and Communication, Plateau State, Hon. Nazif Ahmed, representing His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong, flagged off the Local Government level publicity drive by distributing various customised publicity materials such as face caps; T-Shirts; and Flyers to participating State, Federal and NOA information officers in the State.

The programme was attended by a total of 122 Information Officers from all 17 Local Government Areas in Plateau State, as well as those of the National Orientation Agency and the Federal Ministry of Information in the state. The goal was for the officers to have in-depth knowledge of the DSO process and its benefits and spread the information to the public at the grassroots.

It would be recall that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) had earlier set June 17, 2015, as the switchover date from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcast Transmission the world over. With the failure of most African Countries, to meet this dateline, a new date of June 20, 2017, has been agreed upon by Countries in the West African Sub-region, which includes our dear Country.

The two day programme kicked off on February 4th and ended on February 5th, 2016 in Jos, Plateau state.



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