Digital switchover in Nigeria a façade – Aderemi Ogunpitan

Aderemi Ogunpitan

Founder and chief executive officer of video production and technology company IBST Limited Aderemi Ogunpitan has described the digital switchover project in the Nigerian television industry as a façade.

Mr Ogunpitan stated this in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

According to him, the Nigerian television industry faces a huge dilemma that can be attributed to several factors.

“One reason is that the local film industry, Nollywood, has gained international recognition and success, attracting investments from major players like Netflix and Amazon. Even government is making huge investment packages available to the industry, leading to a diversion of capital and resources towards the more lucrative local film industry, leaving TV broadcasting with limited investment.

“Added to this is the largely non-discriminative issuing of new licenses in an already cluttered and largely non-profitable industry to broadcasters, many who are struggling to stay alive and pay salaries.

“Additionally, the local TV industry suffers from poor quality output due to a lack of investment in infrastructure, equipment, talent and content.  This results in a decline in viewership and subsequent decrease in advertiser interest, further exacerbating their financial challenges,” he wrote.

The media technology entrepreneur then addressed the digital switchover project for which the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has spent over N26 billion to replace analogue terrestrial television in Nigeria with digital terrestrial television.

Sometimes referred to as the analogue switch-off, the botched project spearheaded by former minister of information and culture Lai Mohammed under immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari is in limbo after several failing to meet several completion dates.

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“The ongoing facade of a digital switchover hasn’t helped,” Ogunpitan said.

“A project initially intended to enhance the commercial viability of TV broadcasters, has posed numerous challenges. Instead, the process has been slow and inconsistent, leading to a more fragmented market and a lack of depth in reach and viewership, negating the commercial benefits it was meant to deliver.”

Calling on both government and other stakeholders to curtail the depression in the broadcast industry, Ogunpitan suggested steps that can be taken to stem the tide.

“Firstly, the government needs to prioritize and see how to support the TV industry, the same way they are supporting the local film industry. Through investment packages, tax incentives, and grants the broadcast industry can be reinvigorated to be a catalyst of growth, employment and tax generation. They can provide grants to help improve infrastructure, upgrade equipment, and attract quality talent.

“Industry stakeholders also need to collaborate and form partnerships with international content producers, broadcasters, and streaming platforms and explore opportunities to tap into additional resources, investment, and expertise, and increase the quality and competitiveness of local TV content.

“It is crucial that the challenges of the digital switchover be addressed to ensure a smooth transition and enhance the commercial viability of TV broadcasting. This may involve establishing new deadlines to be adhered to, and incentives to encourage TV broadcasters to upgrade their technology to reach a wider audience.

“There has to be a new focus on promoting and marketing Nigerian TV content both locally and internationally. This can be done through trade fairs, film festivals, and partnerships with international distributors. By increasing the visibility and demand for Nigerian TV content, broadcasters can attract more investment and resources.

“To ensure the revitalization of the TV broadcasting sector in Nigeria more work needs to be done, and quickly too,” he concluded.