Government to kick off Abuja phase of digital switchover in November
The Federal Government has concluded plans to flag-off the Abuja phase of the switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting by November 2016. This follows the withdrawal of the N1tr suit filed by one of the licensed signal distributors for the Digital Switchover (DSO), Pinnacle Communications Ltd, against the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), for allegedly changing the license conditions contravening the government’s white paper on digitisation.
As a result, Pinnacle Communications would now serve as the signal distributor for the next phase of the DSO.Pinnacle had on July 7, 2014 won the bid for second digital broadcast signal distributor under a terrestrial platform and paid the sum of N618, 750,000.00 for the license.
But in 2015, the firm dragged NBC to court, accusing the commission of changing the rules and introducing new dimensions to the industry, including the appointment of a single content aggregator for Nigeria, to capture all free-to-air channels on satellite and terrestrial platform, in contravention of the white paper and the draft license, which forms part of the Request for Proposal (RFP).
Speaking at a reconciliatory meeting in Abuja, Director General of NBC, Is’haq Moddibo Kawu, said the commission met with officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance on Thursday, even as he expressed hope that Nigeria would meet the June 2017 DSO deadline.
He observed that when Pinnacle Communications became the preferred bidder and winner of the Second National License as the second signal distributors for the DSO, it looked like a consolidation of a process that was going to help the commission speed up the switchover.
Kawu lamented that it was soon after that process that the relationship between the two parties became strained, leading to the institution of a legal action by Pinnacle.
He pointed out that as long as the litigation was unresolved, the DSO was going to remain tainted and mired in controversy. He added that Pinnacle was fully back into the DSO process.