Funding, content development may frustrate Nigeria’s DSO deadline next year
It is a clear fact that the federal government has shifted the deadline for Nigeria to migrate to Digital Switch Over (DSO) two times. The current shift has set June 17, 2017 as the final deadline, but there are serious signals that the deadline may not be a reality after all.
Investigations by Business Hilights show that not much have been covered and may be covered in order to meet the delivery date next year.
For example, in Jos where the first pilot launch was held early last year, there are complains that reception has been poor as many of the stations are not showing. They always display ‘scramble channel’ and when signals are received it does not last, thus frustrating many families who have retuned back to using antenna to get clear signals.
Apart from the issue of poor signals, content has been very poor as watchers had believed that more interesting content ought to be injected in the Set Top Boxes for terrestrial transmission.
Besides, it would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed had assured that the DSO launch for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will be held before the end of the year, but not much had been done in the planning.
A top official of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) who pleaded anonymity said “The Commission is good to go only if we can get the needed funding, otherwise, the FCT switchover may be postponed to sometime next year”.
“If the postponement happens to take place, I can assure you that we may not cover the federation on the June 17, target date.
The staff decried the frustrations faced by the commission, headed by Mallam Kawu Modibbo in getting funding access from the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to execute lined up activities ahead of the switch over.
“Recall that it was just recently that the federal government ordered EFCC to release the N10bn fund it trapped when the former Director General, Mr. Emeka Mba was leaving office. The fund was only moved to TSA on NBC behalf which did not translate to the fact that we have had access as many will think.
“NBC is still facing funding issues in carrying out series of planned awareness campaigns and nationwide road show to educate Nigerians on what the change DSO will mean to millions of Nigerians.
Moreover, many of the licenced STBs local manufacturers are yet to begin production due to forex crisis and some new entrants including Innoson Group who recently secured about $300m international credit is currently hobbled by exchange rate differentials.
Though efforts to get the views of the DG on how he intends to solve the puzzle of meeting June 17 deadline failed as at press time.
Before now, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was upbeat that the set target to generate 70% local broadcast content as Nigeria prepares for the Digital Switch Over in June, 2017 is achievable. It was not yet clear if his believe is still active considering the confusion created by forex crisis which experts he give as a reason should the scheme fail by June next year.
Many of the times the minister had explained the advantages of the DSO, he has given various degrees of advantages including creating more jobs and earning up to one billion Dollars in annual revenue from the broadcast industry.
Speaking recently at the 2016, AFRCAST in Abuja, Mohammed said that digitization of broadcasting offers Nigeria a lot of opportunities with multi-faceted and very far-reaching benefits especially in the areas of economics, politics, education, entertainment, science and technology.
Other benefits according to him include increase the number of the current 450 TV stations in Nigeria and content creation opportunities.