AFRICAST 2016 opens in Abuja

Nnenna Okoronkwo, Abuja

The 11th edition of the biennial international conference of African broadcasters tagged AFRICAST, has opened in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The 3-day event has as its theme Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting: the imperative of Financing Quality Content.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in his opening remarks said AFRICAST was “conceived as a forum for examining the challenges posed to broadcasting by the multi-faceted socio-economic-politics, cultural, technological and developmental imperatives of our continent”.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed noted that AFRICAST provides a platform for stakeholders in Africa’s broadcasting scene to converge and exchange ideas on content creation and explore the possibilities offered by the new and emerging technology.

He said the Nigerian Government was committed to achieving the 2017 Digital Switch over deadline.

“This is why technology and broadcast content have remained critical issues at the various editions of AFRICAST. The Digitization of the technology of broadcasting is rapidly changing broadcasting and offering fresh opportunities – Broadcasters are embracing platforms for diverse content and now require media tools with continuous access to content throughout their business. Content producers are delivering their program content to ever more devices. The evolution of new broadcast platforms is threatening traditional broadcast platforms and channels. The reality though is that the motivation apparently is that as broadcasters engage new platforms, the market opportunities are increasing, providing new revenue streams”.

The digitization of broadcasting offers Nigeria a lot of opportunities. The benefits are multifaceted and very far-reaching – in the areas of economics, politics, education, entertainment, science and technology and several other ways. Many have said that the impact of digitization on television will be revolutionary and I cannot agree less. With digitization, the TV industry in Nigeria will be able to raise over 1 billion dollars in one year. Also, digitization will increase the number of the current 450 TV stations in Nigeria.

The Federal government’s idea of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is one in which there is free digital TV service called FreeTV – based on Freeview rather than requiring pay TV subscriptions. Therefore, the government is providing support to ensure that the FreeTV Set–Top-Boxes, also called decoders, are affordable at a retail price of N1,500 ($7.50).

Also speaking at the event, the Director General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, Ishaq Modibbo, said Nigeria’s digital broadcast takeover would be completed in June 2017.

Voice of Nigeria's Executive Director of News Ahaziah Suleiman with Director of Engineering Canice Jerimoth
Voice of Nigeria’s Executive Director of News Ahaziah Suleiman with Director of Engineering Canice Jerimoth