Voices that threaten steady march to digitisation

Nigeria’s digital transition has made appreciable progress in recent time. But staccato of voices from the operators in the broadcast industry indicates that miles still need to be covered before arriving at the target destination.

• CCNL reiterates role in DSO process

No doubt, Nigeria’s digital transition has made appreciable progress in recent time. But staccato of voices from the operators in the broadcast industry indicates that miles still need to be covered before arriving at the target destination.

For instance, at the 67th General Assembly and 16th Annual General Meeting of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) held in Owerri, Imo State, Chairman of BON, Mr. John Momoh alleged that the licensing of the third parties such as Cable Channels Nigeria Limited (CCNL), manufacturers of Set Top Boxes (STB) and Inview Technology had created a clog in the actualisation of the digital switch over.

Momoh, who is also Chairman, Channels Media Group said that it was illogical to have a middleman between a content producer and the signal distributor. Thus, he urged the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to ensure that all technical and coordination activities of the existing DTT pay source are resolved otherwise the digital switch over will not be actualised.

But Director, Corporate Communication and Government Affairs of CCNL, Mr. Kalada Wilson has faulted Momoh’s position insisting that CCNL remains a critical stakeholder in the digitization process. “Cable Channels Nigeria Limited (CCNL) is the licensed content aggregator and platform managers of FreeTV. The group is a consortium of Cable/MMDS operators and aggregators who have been in the business of aggregation and distribution for over 30 years.

“CCNL plays an important and vital role in the Nigeria’s DSO process which provides operational support for the platform, including management of the FreeTV Electronic Programme Guide, leads on developing DTT strategy, and working with its broadcast signal distribution partners and industry to provide viewers with information and advice about terrestrial TV channels, services and reception available.”

Wilson clarified that “content aggregation is and has been a global practice in all the countries where Digital Switch Over has been completed successfully.” Reference is made to Freeview/Freesat in UK; Freenet in Germany; and FreeView in Australia. Momoh is, therefore, urged to take some time out to study these successful models.

According to Wilson, the STB manufacturers also play a very vital role in the Nigerian DSO ecosystem. “It is especially very important to content and channel owners as the FreeTV STB gives the content/channels owners security of their content with the help of the encryption system on the FreeTV boxes. For every successful digital switch over, you need Set-top-box suppliers with Encryption and the Middleware to manage the services on the box.”

While acknowledging the fact that the role of the broadcasters, post-digital era, will be significant, Wilson stressed the importance of content creation and tasked broadcasters, especially BON members to brace up for this challenge by focusing on the following:

• Creating good content on their channels, building great channels covering every genre and engaging the creative/production companies in co-production that will make Nigeria Number one in Africa.

• The BON members should immediately engage the NBC and advertising industry in executing a reliable audience measurement regime that will guarantee commensurate revenues for channel owners and production companies post DSO. Without this, the whole DSO will not be sustainable.

• The current situation where owing a channel has become a business of selling airtime is very analogue which is what we are transitioning from and unsustainable. Furthermore, the DSO structure will allow the TV channels return to the basics of creating content, as done in UK where Arqiva is the Signal Distributor, Freeview does the aggregation which thereby freed-up BBC, ITV, Channel 4 to become Content Power Houses.

“It is pertinent to bring Mr. Momoh’s and BON members attention to the fact that Nigeria’s DSO process has become the most talked about in Africa; it was designed by Nigerians – furthermore, other countries including Ethiopia, Niger and Sierra Leone are keen on copying Nigeria’s DSO framework. Television is about great channels and content and it’s time Nigerian Content owners focus on creating exciting and new content and not on transmission, aggregation, encryption and/or STBs,” Wilson said.



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