The Nigerian government is to establish a N200 billion National Broadcasting Fund to aid industry players in the digitization process.
The chairman of the board of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Herbert Onye, made the disclosure in Abuja, at the opening ceremony of the 10th edition of the biennial Africa Conference of Broadcast Organizations, AFRICAST, with the theme “Digital Broadcast Content: Production, Sourcing and Delivery.”
Onye said the fund would be established to enable broadcasters in the country to access grants for capacity building and soft loans for the enhancement of content as the country transits from analogue to digital broadcasting in 2015.
“The fund would provide grants for capacity building, that is outright grants, these are not loans. It would provide soft loans to the television and radio stations, cable and other producers including acquirers of content, that way the fund will elicit the comprehensive response with regards to growth and development of the industry,” he said.
In a message, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Anyim Pius Anyim, said the government was committed to ensuring that digital equipments, like the set up boxes, were manufactured in the country to boost employment and check capital flight.
Ayim, who was represented at the event by senior special assistant to the President in the SGF’s office, Ferdinand Agwu, disclosed that the federal government would manufacture set top boxes in the country which he said would be affordable.
“The government is committed to meeting the deadline and it will ensure that no home in Nigeria is cut off from the digital process,” he said.
In his speech at the event, the chairman of the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria, BON, Abubaka Jijiwa, said the it was advocating a marshal plan that will assist broadcast stations in the country in the digital switch over.
“It is urgently important and necessary to launch a Marshall plan for all television and radio stations, particularly television stations, which must transit from the analogue format to digital format. The processes of getting all stations to be on board, means that they should have access to some form of funding which means federal government’s direct intervention in terms of funding,” he said.
According to him, the proposed marshal plan will be set up six months before the cut-off date to enable any station that needs extra funds to become fully digitalized, have access to such funds.
The director general of the NBC, Emeka Mba, said the key driver for digital broadcasting remains content.
Mba said the cardinal aim of the commission was to transform broadcasting into a comprehensive information terminal for the household and make broadcasting socially relevant.
“Digitization is not just about technology. We have tried at the National Broadcasting Commission to focus attention not only on the technology aspect in digital switch over but to also emphasis that content is important,” he stated.