12 December 2012

Nigeria: All Eyes On Digital Terrestrial Television Rights

If there is anything that gladdens the heart of Nigerian viewers this year, it is the coming into the Pay TV market by GOtv and NTA Startime.

At least an average person on the street, who had thought the Pay TV platform, was an exclusive of the rich had a succor that he or she could benefit through the new comers. They were not only cheaper but like existing operators, offered value for money. For this reason, it was not long before the two operators got massive subscribers.

Pundits have however argued that the June 17, 2015 deadline given by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for the transition from analogue to digital television was responsible for the recent development in that market.

But recently, there was an insinuation in some quarters that GOtv, does not possess the required licence to operate in the market, rather, it is being argued that it was licensed to offer digital video broadcasting handheld; a licence that seems to restrict it to providing services directly to handheld devices.

They have argued that since the Federal Government's pronouncement, through the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, in April this year, that the government would be licensing at least two signal distributors, there had not been official bidding, where GOtv was officially authorised to do terrestrial television services.

The Minister had stated that "We would be licensing at least two signal distributors; one will be public signal distributor that will be comprised of the broadcasting access of NTA, FRCN and VON. We also will be licensing another private signal distributor to provide the necessary competition that will give values to consumers of broadcasting content."

As impressive as those words were to many Nigerians, especially those who would have loved to participate as private signal distributors, such enthusiasm was however dampened with the sudden unveiling of GOtv, without any bidding process.

An attempt to talk with the handlers of GOtv on the issue was unsuccessful as the Head of Corporate Communication at Multichoice, its parent company, Mr. Segun Fayose, failed to respond. When THISDAY called him on his mobile phone on Thursday, he didn't pick or reply the sms sent to him.

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