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How cable channels consolidate Nigeria’s march to digital broadcasting

Digital broadcasting

The Nigerian cable channels, like their counterparts in other climes, are working assiduously with other stakeholders to ensure that migration from analogue to digital TV broadcasting is accomplished smoothly. In the on-going digital switch over from analogue to digital television broadcasting, the Cable Channels Nigeria Limited (CCNL), the content aggregator licensee, at the inception of the digitization process, forced all MMDS Re-Broadcast operators spread across the country to digitize, as done in other countries. This was as a pilot to understanding total digital process and it came at a cost of over N10 billion borne by the private operators.

However, some stakeholders have begun to question the ability of CCNL to complete the very important assignment of placing the country among the comity of nations that enjoy digital broadcasting. But the company’s Director, Corporate Communications, Kalada Wilson has vouched for the readiness of CCNL, stating how far the company has gone to effectively and efficiently carry out its
work.

According to him, re-broadcast companies using the MMDS frequencies were the first private broadcasters in Nigeria, starting in 1990, in Lagos.

He said: “ABG Communications Ltd and Disc Engineering Ltd were given permission by the Ministry of Communications and later Ministry of Information long before the enabling Acts setting up the NBC and NCC were put in place. Collectively operating under the Association of Cable Operators of Nigeria (ACON), both companies were invited and participated in the Presidential Advisory Committee that started the Digital Switch Over, which led to the appointment and licensing of the current stakeholders.

“Our Chairman and operator of Delta Cables, Ilorin, Kwara State, Engr. Kunle Osisanya-Afolabi represented the Cable Operators. The idea was to fashion out a guideline as to implement the DSO in Nigeria through a white paper,” he said.

In the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, he disclosed that the MMDS re-broadcast operators, who had transited to digital since 2009, and operate under the collective name of Cable Channels Nigeria Limited (CCNL) was licenced to undertake the very familiar business of content aggregation.

According to Wilson, CCNL applied for the content aggregation licence in the transition regime based on its experience and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) awarded it the licence in order to tap from its invaluable and unmatched experience in the business.

“Our knowledge of the distribution network, which we have been doing for over three decades and our relevance in the new television configuration will save some jobs and even on a long time basis some of our loses in giving up our investments for the country to go digital in compliance with the International Telecommunication Union’s directive and mindful of the many benefits freeing up of the various spectrum would have on the economy of the country and many others would come to the fore. We did not wake up from the blues and we are ready and able for the job.

“There was no bidding exercise, as upon applying for the role of content aggregation in the DSO, rather the NBC in its wisdom considered the over three decades of unmatched experience in the aggregation and distribution business we have in the business and granted us the licence,” he disclosed.

Commenting on the Set-Up Boxes distribution, as Cable TV operators, he informed that NBC leveraged on CCNL existing network to assign distribution of government subsidised boxes.

The company’s director said: “Our cost for designing, distribution and marketing were all that we had, which we are entitled to recoup out of the N1,500 cost per box. It is pertinent to note that in any country where Digital Switch Over has taken place, the subsidy regime in one form or the other is undertaken by government for its citizens. It may be of interest to know that even in the present configuration of the DSO, CCNL, which is licensed as content aggregator, still carries out the role of signal distributor. We play back end roles for all the licensed signal distributors via DTH.

“By this action, we are also a signal distributor and can actually do so and cover the entire country at a much reasonable cost to government and Nigerians. CCNL provides strategic consultation services and full end to end management services to the NBC for the state-by-state, region-by-region and national roll out of DSO across Nigeria,” he said.



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