NBC: Reps calls for amendment of digital laws

OrderPaperToday -The House of Representatives has called for amendment of digital laws in the country, including the Act establishing the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

This followed the adoption of the recommendations of the Ad Hoc committee on Digital switch over after completion of work about 18months ago.

Recall that Tlthe 14-member committee headed by Sunday Marshal Katung (PDP, Kaduna) was Seoul following the adoption of a resolution on Tuesday, June 22, 2016 to investigate the current process of Digital Switch Over (DSO) from analogue transmission to digital terrestrial transmission in Nigeria.

The committee among other things, recommended the amendment of NBC law to ensure effective transition, urging the relevant regulatory authorities to ensure that the digitalization leads to job creation.

Katung who gave a brief remark during the consideration of the report, stated that “the committee in its investigations covered the following relevant agencies and other players in the broadcast sector- Federal Ministries/Agencies and Private organisations and Associations involved in the digital transition programme, such as; The Ministry of Information and Culture; National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); Nigerian Communication Commission(NCC);National Television Authority (NTA);MTN Telecommunications Ltd; Radio Television.”

The following specific recommendations were adopted by the House:

“There should be an amendment to the NBC Act to strengthen its regulatory responsibility and develop a standard regulatory documentation for digital broadcasting as contained in the White paper report;

“Amendments to existing legislation to incorporate Government policy recommendations on digital broadcasting in Nigeria and to legalise Digital Access Fee (DAF) and Conditional Access Fee (CAF).

“There should be an amendment to the NBC Act to strengthen its regulatory responsibility and develop a standard regulatory documentation for digital broadcasting as contained in the White paper report.

“There should be an effective collaboration between the Ministry of Information and NBC on the digital switch over process.

“NBC and the Ministry should develop the proposed National Media Content Policy for the Digital TV era, covering a media content master plan including media content fund (MCF) to fund content production. Management of the fund should be as proposed by the Ministry with necessary legal backing.

“That optimal management of Spectrum for the DSO should be ensured by the Ministry. It is equally important to confirm the total amount harvested from the sale of the spectrum by NBC and how these monies were expended.

“That Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) should be involved in the activities of STB Manufacturers to ensure standard and avoid a situation where the country is turned into a dumping ground for substandard and obsolete equipment.

“That NBC should collaborate with Nigcomsat on the best way to use its facilities for the switch over to enable the country conserve foreign exchange.

“The Government should offer more incentives to STB Manufacturers to encourage local manufacturing of STBs, but not necessarily subsidy.

“That the license issued to Set Top box Manufacturers who have failed or neglected to establish manufacturing plants to engage our teeming unemployed youths and create other opportunities in pursuit of local content should be withdrawn forthwith in accordance with the terms of the license and consider licensing or replacing them with Nigerian companies who have capacity in accordance with the provisions of the White Paper.

“The Ministry and other key stakeholders should initiate effective public enlightenment programme to create awareness on the process and expectations of the digital switch over.

“That the ongoing phased/State implementation of the DSO strategy should be thoroughly supervised and monitored by the Ministry. Signal Distributors must exhibit capacity to cover at least 80% of an assigned state before being allocated or proceeding to another state.”

The Chairman of the committee of the whole and the Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yusuf, who Chaired the session, commended the committee for a job well done.

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