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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.
The following observations were made by participants:
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.
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