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THE COMMUNIQUE DRAWN AT THE END OF AFRICAST 2016 HELD AT LADI KWALI HALL, ABUJA SHERATON HOTELS FROM 18TH -20TH OCTOBER, 2016

Preamble:

The 11th Biennial Conference of African Broadcasters (AFRICAST) with the theme: Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting: Financing Quality Content, held from 18th – 20th October, 2016 at Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel and Towers Abuja, the venue since inception in 1996.

The conference, was declared open by the Chief Host, the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and was expected to explore and proffer solutions that will enable African Broadcasters finance and produce quality content in the digital era.

Present at the opening ceremony included: Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Senator Suleiman Adokwe; Chairman, House Committee on Information, Hon Olusegun Odebumi; Chairman, DIGITEAM, Chief Executives Officers of some Federal Government agencies as well as Chief Executive Officers of Broadcast stations; licensed Broadcast Signal Distributors, and Middleware Providers. Also in attendance were the Chairman Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON), President of Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN), the academia, as well as past Directors General and Directors of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

A total of One Thousand One Hundred and Eighty One (1,181) participants from Africa, America, Europe and Asia attended the conference which brought together many broadcast content producers, equipment Manufacturers and Marketers. It also featured a Master Class on the latest technical trends in the industry.

In his welcome address, the Minister drew attention to the larger implication of the roll out of digital terrestrial broadcasting and its benefits in providing better broadcast services and new revenue streams to the general populace. He enumerated the efforts and commitment of the Federal Government in meeting the new DSO deadline of June 2017, including the provision of affordable Set-Top-Boxes (STBs). He said the success of the Jos DSO pilot project, where people now have access to 15 Free TV channels, shows that the nation can achieve diversity and pluralism in media choices. He announced that the Federal Government has concluded plans to roll out in Abuja before the end of 2016 while roll-out to other states in Nigeria will continue in phases till the set date of June 2017.

In his keynote address the Director General of the NBC, Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu likened AFRICAST to international conferences like the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in the USA, the International Broadcasters Conference (IBC) in the Netherlands and MIPCOM in France. According to him AFRICAST has grown like a mustard seed, over the years, to become the giant oak on the soil of African broadcasting; a choice destination for regulators, communicators and policy makers, broadcast programme producers and equipment manufacturers and vendors, and a stage where African broadcasters converge to engage the rest of the world. He emphasized that the theme of the conference is also in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive for a digital economy. He expressed hope that AFRICAST 2016 will unleash the creative talents of our youth in the emerging digital ecosystem where the nation’s 70% local content philosophy could be achieved.

The conference featured 14 paper presentations under five plenary sessions with the following sub- themes: 1) Crossing The Digitization Bridges, 2) DSO: Broadcasters Roundtable 3)

Content Production and Sourcing, 4) Rights Issues and Content Management in a Digital Era, 5) More on Quality Content and the Audience: Imperatives of the Digital Era.

The rich array of seasoned panelists and paper presenters provoked discussions on the challenges of the DSO project and the level of stakeholder involvement, explored the value placed on content production and the challenges of financing and distributing compelling content.

OBSERVATIONS:

The following observations were made by participants:

  1. The digitization process in Nigeria suffered some challenges since inception such as lack of political will, inadequate funding and a lack of synergy among stakeholders;
  2. There is still inadequate knowledge of the DSO among broadcasters and the public, despite the drive by the NBC since 2002;
  3. The Jos Pilot DSO, though largely successful, highlighted some key fault lines to be adjusted in the Abuja roll out;
  4. A hybrid Signal distribution model that allows both pay TV and Free TV content was suggested to make business profitable for investors;
  5. Inadequate STBs at the point of switchover will encourage black marketeering;
  6. The importation of STBs poses a serious threat to the licensed STB manufacturers;
  7. Developing compelling content, that the audience cannot resist, is key to content financing which requires cooperation and collaboration among content providers;
  8. Content producers must learn new ways to produce for multiple platforms and produce contents that have a universal appeal;
  9. Broadcast content producers should acquaint themselves with the various business models such as Metering, Freemium and the Loss Leader Models that allows them to strategically monetize their content, offer both free and paid content and cater for different market and audience;
  10. The digital era requires specialization in broadcast content production, financing, distribution etc;
  11. The NBC through its regulatory activities encouraged the popularity of Nollywood movies thus curbing the dominance of foreign content;
  12. Budgetary allocations for technology acquisition to the neglect of content production is a major challenge to broadcasters;
  13. The Copyright Act of 1988 pre-dates the digital revolution, therefore does not capture digital broadcasting;
  14. Domestication of international treaties on broadcasting is necessary for achieving success in the digitization process in a globalized world without losing focus of international best practice;
  15. Facilities for producing compelling content are scarce in Nigeria hence most of the advertisements are produced outside the country thereby depriving Nigerian producers of the much needed revenue;
  16. For profitable business in digital broadcasting, great and a great mix of both local and international content with strict security rules are essential;
  17. Public broadcasting should be clearly defined as it is needed in Nigeria and the Nigerian Government should consider financing it as it is done for the Police, Military and other essential public services;
  18. Digitization has brought about keen competition not only in service delivery but also in advertising which is a major source of revenue to the traditional broadcasting;

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  1. Good script is the kernel of compelling content;
  2. In the digital era the African broadcaster has the responsibility to satisfy his audience through quality content and be ready to share that content across multiple platforms;

CONFERENCE RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. All stakeholders including state governments should partner with the NBC and the federal government in mobilizing resources and creating public awareness for a successful Digital Switchover;
  2. Content production should recognize the various professionals involved in content production, financing, marketing and delivery to maximize their gains;
  3. Adequate STBs should be made available for roll out in all states to forestall the possibility of black marketeering;
  4. Government should create enabling environment that would encourage the local production of STB components and other broadcast equipment;

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  1. Broadcasters in Nigeria should engage Independent Producers to produce compelling contents by creating a symbiotic relationship;
  2. Experienced producers should mentor and collaborate with young producers to bridge generational gaps in producing compelling content in the digital era;
  3. The white paper on Digitization should be followed in the DSO implementation process to ensure a successful transition;
  4. While using artistic expressions, content developers should always be mindful of infringing on the rights of the consumers as there is no content without culture;
  5. Cost of transmission remains a contending issue therefore, NBC should address the challenges of signal distribution arising from natural factors as the success of digital switch over is largely dependent on the use of satellite and fibre links for complimentary roles;
  6. Broadcast Stakeholders should work together to ensure that intellectual property can be used as a bankable collateral for content financing;
  7. All stakeholders in the broadcast sector should build capacity in the area of copyright and intellectual property issues and press for the amendment of the copyright laws to include digital process;
  8. The NBC should create an annual International Content Market which will serve as a platform for buying and exchange of compelling content among broadcasters and sponsors;
  9. Proper funding is key to producing compelling content in the digital era therefore, content should be considered as a national resource and must not be left in the hands of producers alone;
  10. A legislation to protect the locally licensed STB Manufacturers which are providing employment for the youth should be enacted;
  11. Nigerian Entrepreneurs should invest on state of the art content producing facilities to attract patronage;
  12. The Federal Government of Nigerian should take full responsibility of funding public broadcasting by amending the constitution to allow the broadcast regulator collect the radio and TV license fee and use same to fund the Public Service broadcasters (PSB);
  13. Writing and warehousing script for sale to producers should be encouraged to become a business venture in Nigeria;
  14. The NBC should set up a Content Development Fund where content production can feed from;
  15. Broadcasters should take advantage of technology for audience measurement to enhance revenue generation in the digital era.
  16. The Conference appreciates the NBC for the 70% local content and family belt regulations as a means of encouraging local content production and implored the Commission to continue to ensure the compliance of these regulations even in the digital era;

Thank You.

The motion for the adoption of the Communique was moved by Jummai Liman, MD, Bauchi Radio Corporation. It was supported by Professor Gerald Igyor of the University of Pennsyvania, USA, and Professor Victor Kogah of the Imo State University.