The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) last month switched Kwara and Kaduna States from analogue transmission to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) transmission, in accordance with the Commission’s latest plans to gradually achieve DTT services coverage all over Nigeria under a phased timetable.
The switch on in Ilorin, Kwara State, took place on Wednesday December 20, 2017, at the premises of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Channel 9, while that of Kaduna State, was held on Friday December 22, 2017, at the premises of Pinnacle Broadcasts Limited in Kaduna.
The Switch on of the two locations, namely Kwara State with ITS Limited as signal distributor and Kaduna State with Pinnacle Broadcasts Limited as signal distributor, is in compliance with the Commission’s phased Digital Switch On (DSO) timetable.
The phased Digital Switch On timetable is built on a one-state per geo-political zone in Nigeria plan, which has been agreed upon by stakeholders in the broadcasting industry, as the route to gradually achieving DTT services coverage all over Nigeria.
NBC Director General, Mr. Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, assured Nigerians last month, ahead of the events, that the switch-on will provide a mixture of local, regional and national television channels on the FreeTV bouquet.
He explained that the choice of one state from each geo-political zone for the phased timetable of the switchover was deliberate decision aimed at sustaining the momentum.
According to Mr. Kawu, “Our goal is to enable the evolution of a digital television ecosystem that not only transforms television and broadcasting in general but also help bridge the digital divide, create jobs and grow our national economy”.
Speaking at the Ilorin event, the NBC Director-General said Kwara was the first of the six states chosen by the Commission “for the more ambitious phase of switchover, after the pilot phase in April 2016, in Jos, Plateau state; and the definitive beginning of the national switchover, in the Federal Capital Territory, in December 2016.”
He explained that when the NBC commenced the switchover from analogue to digital television in Nigeria just over a year ago, the Commission, DIGITEAM Nigerian and all stakeholders, namely signal distributors, content providers, middleware provider, Set Top Box manufacturers, content aggregator, and call centre operators, were working together for the first time, to provide the practical experience of what a real digital switchover was like.
Mr. Kawu described the exercise as “a pioneering endeavour for all of us”, adding that “even in the midst of the inevitable controversies that trailed the effort”, he was delighted that they had arrived at the point where they could report to the Nigerian people that “the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting has finally found the traction that would lead to the delivery of the process, for the benefit of our country.”
Identifying Kwara, Kaduna, Osun, Delta, Enugu and Gombe as the first six states where DSO will be carried out, he noted that “Kwara state is particularly unique, amongst the first six states chosen for this switchover, because it is a state with a relatively old broadcasting culture but it is also a state that shares an international boundary with the Republic of Benin. It therefore offers us the opportunity to test the process of DSO in a state with an international boundary.”
Describing the event as “the point of embarkation for an exciting journey”, Mr. Kawu pledged that “we would be changing the face of television broadcasting and television viewing experience, forever!”
He explained that the new DTT project was an impressive technical feat and a platform that has a national security imperative, adding that the “Federal Government envisages that in the long run, digital television will offer a major platform to create new jobs for the Nigerian economy, through the direct jobs that will come from employment to be generated, by our various stakeholders.”
Mr. Kawu predicted that the project would also be the platform for the creation of new Nigerian television contents of all genres, by a new generation of Nigerian content providers and that “television will become a 24-hour fare, and 70 per cent of that content is expected to be local content.”
In a similar speech at the Kaduna Digital switchover, he said: “The Nigerian government, through the NBC, is committed to taking advantage of the digital economy, to open up accesses for Nigeria’s young people, to create new content, that can help to reinforce patriotic commitment to national development.”
The NBC Director-General noted that as part of the DSO process, the Commission had held content financing workshops in Lagos, Enugu and Kano as a result of which, he said, “Nigeria’s young and creative community, are increasingly understanding the importance of the opportunities that the digital process can portend for our future.”
He explained that the NBC was deploying two multiplexes of 30 channels for viewers in Kaduna state, representing local, regional and national channels.
According to him, this is the model that the NBC has adopted for Nigeria’s digital switchover with the enormous and limitless opportunities associated with the process.