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NBC Misses DSO Deadline, Says Nigeria Needs 32m STBs

peter oluka

National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has has failed again in its bid to get terrestrial television stations in the country switch over to digital broadcasting but said that it will cover 12 states in the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project by December 2017.

The NBC had fixed 17 June, 2017 as the deadline for all television broadcast stations to switch to digital broadcasting.

The commission also said that the country needs 32 million Set Top Box (STB) for it to switch from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting.

Is'haq Modibbo Kawu, director general of NBC who stated this on Friday during a press conference in Lagos, said that following the successful switch over in Abuja in December 2016, the commission planned to switch over in one state in each of the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.

He said that the next phase of the project would be Kaduna in the Northwest; Gombe in the Northeast; Kwara in North Central; Osun in Southwest; Delta in South-South and Enugu in Southeast.

“At our last stakeholders’ meeting last week, the decision was taken to launch in Ilorin, Kwara state by the end of June; Kaduna by the beginning of July.

“These follow the completion of the installation of the transmission facilities in these locations, and subsequently, we would launch Osogbo in Osun; Enugu in Enugu state; and then Delta as well as Gombe state.

“So, as we conclude the six states currently in progress, we would choose another set of six states reflecting the geo-political zones, for the next phase, until the entire country is completely covered.

“We have proceeded with the faith that the DSO is just too vital to our national progress and should not face any more delays,” he said.

The DG said that the June 17, 2017 deadline was just a ‘benchmark date’ for the digital switch over in the country.

He said that many had misconstrued the process, assuming that on that date, almost like a magic wand, Nigerians would wake up to find that the country had switched off analogue and switched on digital television.

On the set Top Box (STB) for it to switch from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting, Kawu said that the number was arrived at by dividing 191 million Nigerians by six, which represented the number of a household.

He said that the DSO process was a huge financial, technical and logistical challenge.

According to him, switching on a huge country like Nigeria requires tremendous financial commitment.

He said that an STB costs 45 dollars and the commission had made a commitment of eight million units which would amount to 26 million dollars.

According to him, the price is a huge cost for Nigerians hence, the Federal Government has to subsidise it to N1, 500 per STB.

“We are looking at 20 dollars per box so that it will be affordable. We are trying as much as possible to manufacture the boxes locally.

“Similarly, our Set-Top-Box manufacturers has committed resources to the importation of 850, 000 STBs from China.