FEC backs effort to beat digitisation deadline

THE Federal Executive Council (FEC) has given its nod to the process of migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting in Nigeria, to ensure that the country meets the 2017 deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

A memorandum to this effect was the only one tabled for deliberation at Wednesday’s meeting of the council, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who presented the memorandum, the pilot project set up in Jos, Plateau State, was working well and people with set-up boxes were already able to view up to 15 channels of digital broadcast.

Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, he said: “Already, the pilot scheme in Jos, which was successfully deployed at the end of April  is working very well and today, those who are in possession of our set up boxes can view 15 channels with clarity in Jos.

“And the highlights of today’s council meeting is that council reaffirmed its support for us to meet the deadline of 2017 June and directed that the relevant ministries work together to achieve these deadline.”

On the possibility of meeting the deadline in the face of tough economic situation faced by Nigerians, Mohammed said government would subsidise the set up boxes which he believed would help to create more jobs in the country.

The minister added: “Again, the government would assist to subsidise in getting the boxes.

“But look at the job creation that digital migration is going to bring to Nigerians. Look at the opportunities it offers our young men, who are very talented to provide content to television stations.

“So, it’s going to impact very largely on the broadcast industry. Even piracy which has been a menace to us today, with digitisation, it means that musicians and film makers can release their films or records direct on digital broadcast such as video on demand and we are now going to cut off the entire pirate network which has been a bane to our creative industry.

“If we look at the advantages of digitisation in terms of changing the entire economy of providing more jobs for the people, even the 13 manufacturers of set up boxes that have been licensed, two of them already are producing, are also going to employ.

“But I think that the fact that we have a temporary setback does not mean we are going to be cut off from the entire world.”