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NBC tours STB factory in Calabar, says funding delaying DSO

Fact has emerged on why not much had been heard from the management of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on the progress of Nigeria’s digital switchover (DSO) which the last several months.

Speaking during a recent tour of a private Set Top Boxes (STBs) factory in Calabar, owned by Gospell Digital Technology (GDT), leader of the NBC team, Mr. Salihu Bamidele, who represented the Chairman, Alhaji Ikra Aliyu Bilbis, revealed that Federal Government’s inability to release money to the Commission remains the key drawback.

Though Aliyu Bilbis was smart enough to avoid questions on the total amount needed for full take off of DSO, the Group Managing Director of GDT, Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa averred that the total figure NBC needs at N45 billion and only N15 billion had been approved but not released yet.

Whereas members of NBC team expressed satisfaction on the quality, innovations and efficiency of GDT, Aliyu Bilbis regretted that the switch over has not taken off fully within the target period in the last 13 years of ITU’s directive to every nation.

He further revealed that “We have done six states and there are more to it. There are some funds to pay some people who have worked before they can do more into it. There are other administrative paper works to be done which we are battling with.

“But as soon as we are able to sort that out as a regulator, it does not take anything for us to release the timetable because we know that by now, we are far behind. I appeal to the operators to work together as a team. Satellite providers have to come together and let us have one voice. They have all to be on the same page and that is part of the delay. The differences we have are administrative differences.”

He added that “We cannot give any assurance because it involves funds and the NBC does not have the funds and that is why we are appealing to the Federal Government to yield to NBC’s demand so that they can get this thing done. We do not have the money. The money is in billions.

“The white paper is the guideline that guides the operations of the DSO. So, we are trying to make sure that the Act establishing the NBC is reviewed so as to give it a legislative backing. Now, what we have is just the white paper, which is the guideline we are working with. So, you can see all kinds of bottlenecks here and there. But if we are on the same page with the press and everybody, we can get this thing done easily. We don’t have legislation”.

Still on the funding of DSO, Ohuabunwa accordingly, charged the Federal Government to hasten release of funds to the management of NBC for effective takeoff of DSO and the release of a specific time-table that will unveil the commission’s plan regarding switch over from analog to digital broadcasting.

He warned that if the Federal Government and the NBC continue to delay the full takeoff of the DSO, his company alone risks the chance of “losing a total amount of $50 million given the amount of efforts invested in the project” so far.

In his view, such a scenario will send a negative signal to prospective investors in the sub-sector.

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