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Ahead of the January 2015 deadline for the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has identified the urgent need to enact a new broadcast Act.
Also, the Act establishing the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) may be reviewed as the digital broadcast summit agreed that the white paper already approved by the government for the NTA be broken into two component parts to provide the backbone for a signal distributor and a broadcaster.
To this end, regulators and other stakeholders in the broadcast industry are to engage the National Assembly on issues affecting the switchover before the end of the first quarter of 2014.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the digital broadcast summit themed ‘digital switchover; milestones and bridges’ organised for stakeholders in the broadcast industry in October.
According to the communiqué exclusively obtained by THISDAY, the NBC would partner the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in setting up a mechanism for controlling the importation of analogue broadcast equipment into the country.
“For a new broadcast Act shall be enacted as soon as possible. To this end, there is urgent need for the regulator and stakeholders to engage the National Assembly before the end of the first quarter of 2014.”
According to the communiqué, the new policy and legal framework on digitisation would harmonise the payment of fees to the regulator and signal distributor as well as consider how the system could be beneficial to existing broadcasters.
The documents suggested that periodical research should be carried out to ascertain the awareness the public on switchover.
The communiqué also proposed that the three signal distributors to be approved by government should include an independent broadcaster to be licensed through a public open bid latest by March 2014.
Also, the Set-Top box (STB) manufacture bid shall be made latest by March, 2014, and incentives in form of tax rebate, and protection to create certain market for the manufacturer(s).
It, however, provides that interested bidders should meet statutory requirements for bid, which includes three years minimum tax clearance and other requirements as approved by the law.
Meanwhile, the timelines for the switch-off of analogue terrestrial broadcast is expected to commence by the second quarter of 2014, with the first phase in Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and the border areas, while the second phase would include all state capitals by the end of third quarter of 2014, and the third phase would capture the entire country by December 2014.
NBC is also set to engage the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on how to make intellectual property right bankable as collateral.