The Media Blog: 11 questions to help you understand the TV digital switch over

We realize many people, including very many media professionals, are deeply confused about what exactly Nigeria’s television digital switch over means.

So, as we promised last week, we got a professional, who was deeply involved in the process under the former director general of the National Broadcasting Commission, but sadly refuses to be named, to break it down for us in 11 questions.

Let’s know if you’re still confused when you’re done.

1. Basic question: What does digital switch over mean?

Transition from analogue broadcasting to a digital.

2. How exactly will it affect everyday Nigerians – do we have to buy new TVs?

Most Nigerians currently have analogue TVs, after switch over they’d either need Digital TV sets or Set Top Boxes (STB).

3. Will everybody have to buy boxes? Will we have to do subscriptions to watch TV?

Anyone who can’t afford new Digital TV sets will need a STB, no subscription is required.

4. Why does Nigeria need this – what we have now is working very well after all?

Nigeria is signed up to the DSO international treaty at the ITU, what we currently have is inefficient use of spectrum which the analogue broadcasters use, the spectrum capacity 1 analogue channel uses can be used for 16 channels digital channels.

5. How was the decision to do a switch over made?

At the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) treaty. It was agreed that to meet one of the Millennium Development goals of making Internet access available to majority of the population, the spectrum currently occupied by broadcasters after the transition will be used for this purpose.

6. If you need both a box for terrestrial and cable, then what will be the difference between the two?

The difference is in the services, terrestrial free to air will be free as it is today, Cable or PayTV will be subscription based.

7. Sorry to ask again, but does it also mean that all station will be VOD and ‎Set-To-Boxes?

The stations will remain linear as they are today, except better video and sound quality

8. But wait o, isn’t it away for the Chinese importers to rip us off?

The NBC (Nigeria’s broadcast regulator) is implementing a white paper that created a ecosystem of different service providers, in that white paper, 13 Nigerian companies are mandated to manufacture these stbs.

9. Are you sure this is not a ‘Chinese/FG’ box they just want to sell to us?

Some components will be from China but ultimately the companies will need to be manufacturing companies in Nigeria.

10. What will happen to all the analogue trained broadcasters (cameramen, MCR, directors etc).

They’d continue to retain their jobs, in fact the digital allows for more channels to be created, more opportunities for jobs and additional technical expertise will be required.

11. How does this affect the industry – especially content providers? With digital, there will be 32 channels instead of 4 national channels that we currently have, content providers will have more opportunities to monetize their content.

Thank you, most gracious sir!

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