✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters
Click Here To Listen To Trust Radio Live

Digital broadcast: Tune in, tune off

National Broadcasting Commission DG Emeka Mba must have had goose pimples on November 9 when he saw a webpage posting his interview on the vexed…

National Broadcasting Commission DG Emeka Mba must have had goose pimples on November 9 when he saw a webpage posting his interview on the vexed issue of transition to digital broadcasting system also announcing the resignation of the MTN Group Chief Executive Officer Sifiso Dabengwa, in the latest aftershock of the $5.2 billion fine by NCC over  unregistered subscribers. But it will take more than goose bumps to deal with the looming fiasco hovering around the DG “granting” MTN the 700MHz spectrum for 34 billion naira, which now casts doubt on the feasibility of the twice-rescheduled digital switch over date of June 2017.
Mba is particularly pricked by the moral burden of convincing outraged stakeholders and MTN-wary Nigerians that this irregularity is not unconnected to his almost 9 years “loyal service” with the other face of South African business bulldozer, MultiChoice whose sister company GoTV also got a similar Mba-grant of direct-to-home broadcasts. Worse still, the entire spectrum of NBC transactions has predictably come under the focus of the Buhari Presidency, triggered by the recent revelation of a “licensing bazaar” in which Mba’s NBC doled out a whopping 72 radio and TV licenses as the Jonathan Administration came to an end.
It is therefore curious that in an interview with a major newspaper, the NBC DG attempted to talk his way round the mushrooming minefield of switch over to digital broadcasting in Nigeria, even as he left more questions unanswered about the South African “in-road and head start” to MTN and MultiChoice being the cause celebre of what should be a momentous national milestone in the development and progress of the Nigerian telecommunications and broadcast sectors.
The critical issue of the propriety of NBC allocating spectrum to MTN, a function statutorily assigned to the National Frequency Management Council under the Communications Ministry was conveniently but unconvincingly underplayed by Mba’s vague reference to “proper permission from government.” Any doubt about this was decisively deleted in 2008 when the NFMC’s prerogative was upheld after NCC’s bid to sell spectrum was prohibited.
Finally, Mba’s effort to give the MTN spectrum grant a fund-raising spin by portraying the Federal Government as financially incapable of implementing the Digital Switch Over was unpatriotic opportunism. If he had Nigeria’s interest at heart, he would have subjected the surreptitious sale of spectrum to MTN to public auction in compliance with international best practice and thereby raised much more than the 34 billion naira that still fell short by far of the envisaged expenditure. The NBC angered millions of Nigerian subscribers by imposing a new additional “access fee” on the digital broadcasts service effectively shutting out a majority from free-to-air broadcasts. 
The Digital Switch Over scheduled for June 2017 is already mired in avoidable predicament of further postponement directly attributable to the NBC’s errors, which pose additional threat to the legitimate right of qualified and competent Nigerian entrepreneurs and investors to take command and control of such a strategic economic asset. As we await the ‘Buhari Disinfectant’, the last has not been heard of the South African agenda in Nigeria’s telecoms and broadcast sector.
Danladi wrote in from Zaria, Kaduna State.

VERIFIED: It is now possible to live in Nigeria and earn salary in US Dollars with premium domains, you can earn as much as $12,000 (₦18 Million).
Click here to start.