Non-release of N45b to NBC delays digital switchover
Commission inspects factory at Calabar Free Trade Zone
Thirteen years after flag-off of Digital Switch Over (DSO) by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the non-release of N45 billion by the Federal Government to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has frustrated its take-off in the country.
While inspecting facilities at Gospell Digital Technology (GDT) factory at Calabar Free Trade Zone in Calabar yesterday to ensure state of readiness and enough set up boxes for people to buy, members of NBC team expressed satisfaction but regretted that the switch over has not taken off fully and the reason for this “is multi-functional.”
The leader of the NBC team, Mr. Salihu Bamidele, who represented the Chairman, Alhaji Ikra Aliyu Bilbis, said: “We have done six states and there are more to it. There are some funds to pay some people who have worked before they can do more into it. There are other administrative paper works to be done which we are battling with.
“But as soon as we are able to sort that out as a regulator, it does not take anything for us to release the timetable because we know that by now, we are far behind. I appeal to the operators to work together as a team. Satellite providers have to come together and let us have one voice. They have all to be on the same page and that is part of the delay. The differences we have are administrative differences.”
On when the DSO will take off fully with all the television stations in the country, he further said: “We cannot give any assurance because it involves funds and the NBC does not have the funds and that is why we are appealing to the Federal Government to yield to NBC’s demand so that they can get this thing done. We do not have the money. The money is in billions.
“The white paper is the guideline that guides the operations of the DSO. So, we are trying to make sure that the Act establishing the NBC is reviewed so as to give it a legislative backing. Now, what we have is just the white paper, which is the guideline we are working with. So, you can see all kinds of bottlenecks here and there. But if we are on the same page with the press and everybody, we can get this thing done easily. We don’t have legislation”.
The leader of the NBC team had declined to disclose the total figure they needed for full take off but the Group Managing Director of GDT, Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa, put the total figure NBC needs at N45 billion and only N15 billion had been approved but not released yet.
Uhuabunwa charged the Federal Government to expedite action in the release of funds to management of NBC for take off of DSO and the release of a specific time-table that will unveil the commission’s plan regarding switch over from analog to digital broadcasting.He warned that if the Federal Government and the NBC continue to delay the full take off of the DSO, his company alone risks the chance of “losing a total amount of $50 million given the amount of efforts invested in the project” so far.