The idea of switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting in Nigeria, is becoming a reality. Broadcasting is embracing innovation in the technology of signal generation, transmission and reception. The concept of Digital Switchover (DSO) is a technological advancement in the field of broadcasting where broadcast signal generation, distribution and reception are digitalized. Contrary to the analogue mode of broadcasting, DSO facilitates generation and reception of quality image and sound clarity as well as allows numerous digital channels on single bandwidth as against the single-channel reception in analogue broadcasting.
Globally, many countries have switched from analogue to digital broadcasting with an impressive consequence of high definition and qualitative signal reception and output. 2015 was set as the deadline for digital switchover globally by The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2006. Nigeria, being a member of ITU also joined the trend with experimentation of the innovation.
Although 2012 was the deadline set for the actualization of the first phase or pilot stage of the initiative in Nigeria, however, due to paucity of funds, the project actualization was shifted to 2017 by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). After a long back and forth, the initiative has materialized with the successful launching of DSO in a number of states. The National Broadcasting Commission assured that the development will aid digital television penetration and high-quality service (Adegboyega, 2021).
This development means that broadcast reception now has to be digital. There will be an automatic analogue switch-off. Without the DSO approved set-up boxes, television signals cannot be received. Those residing within the digital switchover States can only receive television signal digitally. Reception on low-quality cable antenna is now of the past. The Digital Switchover is no doubt a welcome development. However, despite its enormous advantages, the Nigerian digital divide has to be considered. Digital Divide according to Fuchs and Horak (2008), means an “unequal patterns of material access to, usage capabilities of, benefits from computer-based information – and communication technologies that are caused by certain stratification processes that produce classes of winners and losers of the information society, and participation in institutions governing ICTs and society”. The gap between digitally inclined and non-digitally inclined citizens in Nigeria is still very wide. Also, the level of internet penetration in Nigeria in comparison with its population is relatively low.
The 2021 statistics show that there are 104.4 million internet users in Nigeria that is 50% internet penetration rate (Kemp, 2021). Going by these statistics, a large proportion of the population will ultimately be cut out of this benefit if a concerted effort is not made to ensure that the DTT signal covers at least 70% of the population while the remaining 30% is covered by Direct –to –Home (DTH) satellite signal.
In conclusion, as the nation migrates gradually to digital broadcasting, the digital divide in the nation must be addressed by tackling poverty, illiteracy, extreme hunger, infrastructural deficit, among other indicators of the digital divide for the DSO to make a meaningful impact.
Kemp, S. (2021). Digital 2021: Nigeria. https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2021-nigeria
Fuchs, C. & Horak, E. (2008). Africa and the digital divide. Telematics and Informatics 25:99–116.
Adegboyega, A. (2021, March 11). FG begins second phase of digital TV switch-over in Lagos, Kano, others. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/business/business-news/448264-fg-begins-second-phase-of-digital-tv-switch-over-in-lagos-kano-others.html
Mr. Abdulhameed Olaitan Ridwanullah is a Lecturer II at the Department of Mass Communication, School of Art, Management and Social Science, Skyline University Nigeria. He has a Masters degrees from the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano