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Digital Switch-Over: NBC Commits $26m to Procure 620, 00 Boxes

As parts of the digital switch-over of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Modibo Kawu said the commission has expended $26 million to procure 620,000 set-up boxes for Nigerian homes.

Speaking in Ilorin after inspecting the digital switch-over station of NTA, Kawu said NBC decided to embark on the switch-over in phases across the country because of the huge financial implications.

“We are going to have it in phases because digital switch-over is a major challenge in terms of technology and logistics,’ he said.

The 620,000 boxes that we have procured for the first phase cost us $26m. That is a huge amount of money; considering that we have about 35 million homes in Nigeria. Each box is about $45 multiply that by 35 million homes. We are going to have signal systems across Nigeria. It is a very expensive process.

“Now we are going to six states in each of the geo-political zone. They are Kwara in the North-Central, Osun (South-West), Gombe (North-East), Kaduna (North-West), Enugu (South-East) and Delta (South-South).

“When a country switches over to digital, it immediately changes the architecture of television in the country. We are moving from analogue form of watching television to a digital format. Let me give you a small example, when we switched over last year in Jos, hitherto, the city was watching between three and four television channels immediately they started watching 15 channels. When we switched over in Abuja we started giving them 30 channels.

“We calibrated them as local, regional and national stations. That immediately gives you a lot options in terms of the number of television stations. Television is not a 24 hour affair in Nigeria and our interactive boxes that we are using can be used to post government information and they can be used to do a lot of things that will help to deepen democratic process in the country.

“On the other hand we are going to have contents. In our decision 75 percent of all the contents of television in Nigeria are to be local contents. If you recall, President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the United Nations General Assembly, one of the things he said was that he was going to leverage on digital revolution to create jobs.

“What NBC is trying to do with this platform is also to get opportunity for younger generations of Nigerian producers of local content to begin to have platforms for themselves. There are so many multi-faceted dimensions to the opportunity that digital broadcasting will bring to Nigeria.”

On the cost of the boxes, he said “the set-up boxes have been subsidised to cost a sum of N1500 annually and they are renewable every year. But as we move forward these boxes will no longer be subsidised. A subsidy regime can only be used at the beginning of a pivot regime. As we move on we are going to have market-driven of the boxes. They are going to be in such a manner that Nigerians will be able to afford those boxes as they have a right to information.”

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