ABUJA – The Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (MBC), Emeka Mba, said on Sunday in Abuja that funding, content or readiness of broadcast organisations would not deter the July, 2015 digital switchover.
Mba, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that the NBC was working to ensure that funds were made available for realisation of the programme.
He added that the commission was working to ensure that broadcast stations’ content and equipment were also ready to drive the switchover.
He said that apart from the N200 billion being sourced by the commission’s board for the switch-over, the NBC had got ministerial approval for another fund.
“Money is always a very tricky issue but the seriousness with which the highest level of this government holds the issue of broadcasting shows that something is going to be done.
“I certainly believe that in a not-too-distant time, maybe in a matter of a month or so, we should begin to get some funding for the process.
“No one is expecting everything to come at once but as we move from stage to stage, it is our expectation that we get appropriate funding to drive the process.
“The N200 billion is a different matter; the N200 billion is really a fund that the board of the commission proposed; it is sort of a broadcasting fund,” he said.
“The funding that we really need at the moment is the funding for the digital switchover.
“We have submitted a proposal to our minister which has been approved but is awaiting approval of the President.
“Because of the volume of money required, there is need for a lot of financial engineering to make sure that the fund is made available,’’ he added.
On whether broadcast stations not ready by the deadline would be left behind, Mba said that the NBC was preparing all the stations to be ready before the deadline.
According to him, the NBC would be organising a three-day conference to sensitise broadcast stations on the steps they need to take to guarantee their readiness by 2015.
“That is why we are doing this conference; I do not want to speculate but when we get to that day, we will take a decision as an industry, together.
“Even though the switchover is driven by the regulator, which is the NBC, it is not strictly for the NBC; it is for the whole country and all broadcasters are involved,” he said.
He disclosed that the commission would organise an interactive session for stakeholders before the switchover date “to assess our readiness.”
“From what we are seeing, there is a lot of enthusiasm by all the broadcasters concerned about what is necessary, what everybody is planning to do before the date.
“The most important thing we wanted to establish is the fact that digitisation goes beyond studio equipment; it is really about the programming; it is really about content,’’ he stated.
Mba expressed optimism that everybody, including the consumers of broadcast content, would be made to understand the nitty-gritty of the switchover.
Awwalu Saliu, the Coordinator of the just-concluded digital broadcasting conference otherwise known as “Africast”, who also spoke to NAN, expressed confidence that that Nigeria would meet the switchover deadline.
Saliu said that NBC and Africast were working to ensure that broadcasters and policy makers as well as the public were sensitised on the project.
“I am confident that we will be able to switchover because we have done everything humanly possible to get the people directly concerned, particularly broadcasters, aware.
“We are now working on the public so that they can also understand it.
“As a matter of fact, the whole idea behind Africast is to prepare the stations, because in broadcasting, content is key, especially in digital broadcasting.
“Because of that, we have made sure that content is the main theme for the whole of Africast this year so that, at the end of the day, the stations are ready to face the challenges ahead.
“The equipment aspect is almost virtually taken care of and the last bit of what needs to be done is institutional.
“I believe there is good enough time to take care of that if we put our shoulders to the wheel,’’ he said. (NAN)