Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has opened up new and robust ways of sending and receiving information at global level. Any type of information including voice and video is sent to the diverse publics, who equally have variety of choices. Thus, the development of any nation is tied to efficient information dissemination. In Nigeria, television broadcasting started in 1959 with the establishment of the Western Nigeria Television (WNTV) by the opposition leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Later on, the government took over the station and fully controlled it. Subsequently, regional stations were opened to propagate government policies and programs. The television industry in Nigeria continued to grow in terms of viewership and number with over fifty national television stations and twenty five private ones. Thus, existing documents on digitization of television broadcasting industry and related literature were used as the main source of information. Therefore, this paper analyses the efforts being made by the Nigerian government through its ICT policy towards digitization of its television broadcasting in order to cope with the global trend. Recommendations are proffered with a view to achieving the target goal.
Keywords—Broadcasting, Digitization, Information, Television.
THE Federal Republic of Nigeria is located in West Africa between Latitudes 4o to 14o North and between Longitudes 2o2’ and 14o30’ East. It is the most populous country on the African continent. Nigeria shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, Niger in the north, and borders the Gulf of Guinea in the south. The three former regions (Western, Eastern and Northern) excluding the Midwest were later divided into 12 states in 1967 along with a number of sub-administrative divisions for each state. In 1976 the states were increased to 19, in 1987 to 21 to 30 in 1987 and 36 in 1996. Further changes in the administrative composition of the country include the redefining of the political regions as local government areas (LGAs) and the creation of the new Abuja Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on December 12, 1991. With this, Lagos ceased to be the country’s capital, a position that it held right from before independence. Thus, today Abuja is the capital while Lagos is the largest city in terms of population and the main commercial centre. There are now 744 LGAs.
II. BRIEF HISTORY OF BROADCASTING IN NIGERIA
From 1932, when Radio Broadcasting Service started in Nigeria, as Empire Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to 1992 when Broadcasting in Nigeria was de-regulated, the broadcast media were owned either by the National, Regional or State Governments.
The Federal, Regional and State governments continued to monopolize broadcasting in Nigeria, despite the 1979 constitutional provision “that every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinion,” which included the broadcast media.
It was not until the promulgation of Decree 38 of 1992, under the leadership of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, now an Act of the National Assembly that Government really took a decisive step to part with its long-drawn monopoly of the broadcast sector. That decree established the National Broadcasting Commission and charged it with the responsibility of regulating and deregulating broadcasting in the country. The law empowered the Commission to license stations, regulate content and, generally, set standards for quality broadcasting in the country.
Expectedly, the emergence of the Commission heralded a wave of requests from the Nigerian entrepreneurs for broadcast licenses that would enable them to set up private broadcasting stations in the country. This has changed the broadcast landscape tremendously, as it allowed the ownership of radio and television by private companies and organizations in the country.
By the middle of 1992, 27 broadcast licenses, 14 for terrestrial television and 13 for cable television, received presidential approval. Although not all those whose applications for license were initially approved took advantage of the approvals, leading to the lapse of such unutilized approvals, many more licenses were subsequently approved for applicants, including those for radio and DTH transmissions.
Today, as a result of that revolution in the Nigerian broadcast industry, the number of broadcasting stations in the country according to  has risen to 394, from less than 30 before deregulation of broadcasting industry in 1992. These include the following number of Private Operators in the broadcast arena:
• 55 companies licensed to offer radio broadcasting services, over 90% of these are operational across the country;
• 25 companies licensed to offer television service;
• 34 Wireless Cable Companies;
• 5 Direct to Home (DTH) Satellite Television Platforms operational in the country.
The National Broadcasting Commission, fully aware of the global drive towards digital broadcasting, insisted on having MMDS licensees digitize their operations for maximum results. Accordingly, a deadline of 31st March, 2008 was set for digitization of all MMDS operations in Nigeria. This has since been realized and the operators in the country are happier for it.
The world is witnessing rapid information and communication transformation through the much talked about and adopted Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The phenomenon has brought about remarkable changes in the way and manner information is gathered, processed and disseminated. For example, people can communicate in real-time with others in different countries using technologies such as instant messaging, video-conferencing etc. Social networking websites like face book allow users from all over the world to remain in contact and communicate on a regular basis.
Prior to the advent of ICT, crude methods were used in communication; so also the machines were analogue in nature that have limited effects as far as efficient information dissemination is concerned. With this development, proper acquisition and utilization of ICT becomes imperative to individuals, organizations, governments and nations so as to be part and parcel of the “Global Village”.
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