Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Federal Government is under intense pressure to revoke the licences of Set-Top-Box (STB) manufacturing companies following reports that the unavailability of the boxes slows down the digitisation process of the nation’s broadcast industry.
STBs are an important component of the Digital Switch Over (DSO), hence, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) empowered 13 companies to manufacture the boxes locally within a stipulated period, with a view to conserving foreign exchange, creating jobs and boosting local technology. However, Daily Sun reliably learnt that this aspect of the DSO remains a clog in the wheel of progress as the companies are not able to provide boxes for Plateau State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that were switched on more than a year ago.
Investigations also showed that the boxes were nowhere to be found too in Kwara and Kaduna states that were switched on last December.
Allegations of underhand dealings have characterised the entire digitisation process, which bogged down the exercise, including non-adherence to the Federal Government white paper on the DSO, owing to selfish and pecuniary interests.
There were also speculations that key officials of NBC, the regulatory body, have vested interest in some of the 13 licensed STBs manufacturing companies.
Arising from these alleged irregularities, the House of Representatives, last year, set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the DSO process in Nigeria.
The report of the committee headed by Sunday Katung, which was adopted by the House include: “That the license issued Set Top Box manufacturers, who have failed or neglected to establish manufacturing plants to engage teeming unemployed youths and create other opportunities in pursuit of local content, should be withdrawn forthwith in accordance with the terms of license…
“that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) should be involved in the activities of STBs manufacturers to ensure standard and avoid a situation where the country is turned into a dumping ground for substandard and obsolete equipment.”