Nigerians take stock of their transition to digital media

LAGOS
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A digital broadcasting roundtable, supported by APC and hosted by Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, took place on February 18, 2014, in Lagos. Participants included representatives from national NGOs, TV and radio stations as well as newspapers.

Russell Southwood, an international expert on the issue, talked about some of the challenges that the country is facing in its transition to digital media. He mentioned that the target set by the Nigerian government of making available 24 million set-top boxes (decoders necessary to receive digital signals in analogue TVs) by 2015 is not likely to be met. Currently, only 1.5 million set-top boxes have been deployed. In order to move the process forward, he advised, the government needs to approve and implement efficient policies with realistic deadlines. As reported by DigitalSENSE News, the expert advised the regulator “to give priority issues of digital migration by not allowing a single player [currently, the Nigerian Television Authority] the opportunity to entrench itself in a dominant position before opening up the market.”

Southwood also underlined the advantages that the switch over would bring to Nigeria. Among them, according to an article by This Day Newspaper, were “better and faster broadband coverage that will benefit citizens, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and government, as well as the possibility of consumers to have increased channels, greater content coverage, wider TV coverage, and expanded TV channels and local contents.”

All participants agreed that there was an urgent need to raise awareness, both among citizens and the governmental bodies that are involved in the transition. Some of the media outlets present committed to help with these tasks by offering to air informational materials at not cost, as well as by featuring the issue through interviews and other forms of dissemination. After the event, two TV stations (NTA Channel 10 and Superscreen) and a radio station (Naija Info 99.3) hosted Russell Southwood on their shows to discuss the topic.

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