The head of Gospell Digital Technology, Godfrey Ohuabunwa, has revealed that over N45bn will be required to allow digital broadcasting to take off in Nigeria.
Ohuabunwa, CEO and group MD, whose company makes set-top boxes in the Calabar Free Trade Zone, made the claim recently after his facilities were inspected by members of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) board.
He said the federal government is yet to release the previously approved N15bn to the NBC to facilitate the switchover from analogue to digital.
He claimed the delay in switching over could cost his company about US$50m, which has already been invested in human and material resources.
“If this digital switchover fails to take place, more than US$50m will be lost on our own side, not to mention by other people. On the job alone, we are going to lose about 5,000 to 6,000 direct jobs. This is why it’s a huge problem.
“We are worried that the delay in the NBC announcing its timetable is beginning to negatively impact on our production. We know how much resources, in terms of capital and human resources, we have put in for our dream to be realised.”
He urged the NBC to release a comprehensive timetable that will guide the digital switchover.
New regulations have been promised by Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, to safeguard online broadcasters in the country.
He made the announcement at the inauguration of the seven-member National Broadcasting Commission Reform Implementation Committee in Abuja.
The reforms were recommended by a committee Mohammed had set up at the direction of president Muhammadu Buhari as a result of the unprofessional conduct of some broadcast stations.
The committee, which has been given six weeks to submit its report, is chaired by the director of broadcast monitoring at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Armstrong Idachaba, while the chief press secretary at the ministry of information and culture, Joe Mutah, will serve as secretary.
Other members are Godfrey Ohuabunwa, acting chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON); Joseph Ehicheoya, director of legal services at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture; Binta Bello, secretary general of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON); Ibrahim Jimoh, director of administration at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria; and Agbo Kingsley Ndubuisi, a member of the NBC board.
The approved recommendations include an increase in fines for breaches relating to hate speech from N500,000 to N5m and the reclassification of divisive comments to Class A offences in the broadcasting code, plus the amendment of the NBC act to enable the NBC to license web TV and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beaming signals into Nigeria.
The terms of reference of the implementation committee are: “To immediately commence work on all statutory, legal and regulatory framework for further legislative action on the review of the NBC act by the National Assembly.
“To work out the modalities for competitive and reasonable salaries, wages and other welfare needs of the staff of the commission.
“To establish necessary protocols for the establishment or appointment of professionals or technocrats (non-partisan personality) to run the agency, and appointment to the board of the NBC.”
Mohammed added: “I have no doubt that this committee, which comprises highly experienced professionals and administrators, will carry out a thorough job that will reposition the NBC as an effective and efficient regulator.”
The fourth annual Digital Broadcast Media Convention is set to take place on August 27 and 28 in Lagos.
The event is a collaboration between the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and Broadcast Media Africa (BMA).
This year’s event was announced in a joint statement by BON chairman Godfrey Ohuabunwa and Benjamin Pius, publisher of BMA. It is supported by Nigerian producers’ association ITPAN and advertisers’ association MIPAN.
Described as promoting “a vibrant broadcast industry for a convergent media environment,” the event will bring together television and radio broadcasters, content providers, solution providers, regulators and industry executives to network, gather market information and find solutions to business issues.
The Digital Broadcast Media Convention is aimed at CEOs, privately owned broadcasting organisations, broadcast solution providers, public service broadcasting organisations, broadcast signal and platform managers, ministerial and government departments, regulators and policymakers.