Wednesday, June 17, 2015 was the deadline for Television and Radio stations all over the world to transit from Analogue to Digital technology as directed by the International Telecommunication Union, ITU. The global telecommunication body had at its Regional Radio Communications Conference, RRC ‘06, held in 2006, set a deadline for a total switchover of all broadcast channels from analogue to digital. It gave June 17, 2015 for all UHF channels to go digital and 2020 for VHF channels to do same.
With the deadline ended, Nigeria, South Africa and 52 other nations remained analogue with obvious implications for the broadcast industry and the economy .
It is noteworthy that the main penalty Nigeria will face consequently is that analogue signals will receive no protection in the event of interference with or from digital signals from our neighbours, most of whom are also unable to transit to digital.
On 17 June, 2014, the first switchover from analogue terrestrial television system to digital took place in Jos, Plateau state at the premises of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA. That marked the advent of digital broadcasting in Nigeria and perhaps the only one so far, despite resolutions by Nigerian broadcasters to achieve complete digital switchover, DSO, by December 31, 2014.
Obviously, digital broadcasting has many advantages over analogue. Programme presentation will be improved by the time analogue is over. Others are clarity and quality of signals and spectrum efficiency. Since technology has opened a world of possibilities for broadcasting, a huge spectrum will be available for radio and television broadcast in Nigeria. As a result, more frequencies or wavelengths will be available for television stations and will afford the industry opportunities for interactive broadcasting as television sets would do much more than receive signals.
Also, under digital technology, television sets perform tasks of computers and telephone handsets. This implies that, TV sets would be able to provide access to the internet. They would also be able to store data from received audio and visual signals. In essence, the ephemeral nature of the broadcast media would have been reduced, if not eradicated. The broadcast media would have greater catalogue value. On the side of broadcasters, digital broadcasting equipment will enable the simultaneous transmission of a minimum of four programmes and four channels from the same station that used to transmit only one programme or channel in the analogue transmission. Digital television will therefore offer variety of added services such as multimedia, banking, home shopping and faster rates of data transmission (casting).
That Nigeria failed to meet the deadline, despite the long notice, is very regrettable and calls for thorough investigation into the roles played by both regulator and operators on the matter.
Needless to say that it was obvious that Nigeria would not meet the deadline. This is because both broadcasters and consumers did not have the basic information and resources required to achieve the feat.
The failure of most of the existing television and radio sets to be digital-compliant means those sets would have to be replaced with digital compliant ones. For the consumers, there will be a second option of acquiring a digital analogue converter known as Set Top Box. This is because; all the analogue production and transmitting equipment will become obsolete at the end of the digitalization process.
Regardless of the expiration of the deadline, Nigerian broadcasting industry must go digital. The country must not be left behind when the whole world must have switched over to digital system. It would amount to Nigeria being turned to a dumping ground for obsolete analogue equipment. As one communication expert put it, “The truth of the matter is that television and radio stations do not have a choice. Nobody has a choice. If we do not migrate from analogue to digital, we will end up being in the dark. It is in everybody’s interest to migrate”. In the final analysis, if Nigeria does not want to be left behind, it must follow the rest of the world.


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