Digitizing the Nigerian Broadcasting Industry as We Celebrate World Radio Day

Today, February 13, the world commemorates World Radio Day. The day was proclaimed on 3rd November 2011 during the 36and General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

It was originally proposed by the Kingdom of Spain. The first procedure was in January 2008 by the President of the Spanish Radio Academy, Mr. Jorge Alvarez. The day, 13and The month of February was chosen in recognition of the day the United Nations Radio was established in 1946.

Subsequently, in December 2012 precisely, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) endorsed the proclamation of World Radio Day, thus allowing it to become a day celebrated by all Member States, the agencies of the UN, as well as their partners.

Various radio industry bodies around the world have so far supported the initiative by encouraging radio stations in developed countries to assist those in developing countries.

Currently, the radio seems to be the simplest and cheapest means of telecommunication. Until the invention of social media, it was widely seen as the only practical means of disseminating information.

It is the simplest, in the sense that most current electronic devices such as GSM among others have access to radio signals. The most affordable, in the sense that anyone, regardless of status, can boast of having access to radio communication.

For example, a portable radio can currently be had for two thousand naira (N4000) in any local market in Nigeria, and the direct current (DC) battery, which could be used to power said device, can be purchased for around two hundred naira (N200).

But a mobile phone, which could guarantee access to some social media like Facebook, can never be had for less than five thousand naira (N10,000).

In most cases, Symbian phones such as Android, Phantom, iPod, iPhone and Blackberry are enough to access the latest social media such as Whatsapp, Telegram, Twitter, Instagram, BBM and others, and these phones cannot not be obtained for less than twenty thousand naira (N25,000) or thereabouts.

The television communication system is not outdone in this analysis or comparison. In an average electronics market in Nigeria, a 14-inch television is priced at around thirty thousand naira or more.

After purchasing the TV, the consumer still needs to get an outdoor antenna to enable him to boast of absolute clarity while using the device. Sometimes he may still need to purchase a generator to facilitate power supply as there is no guarantee of stable power supply anywhere in Nigeria.

This implies that another remarkable phenomenon to be considered when comparing a radio communication system with other means of telecommunication is that due to the unstable power supply in most developing countries like Nigeria, the acquisition of information via the communication system in question (radio) remained the only existing means of reliable telecommunications.

On the other hand, considering other means of communication such as the print media, how many Nigerians can afford a two hundred and fifty naira (N250) newspaper or a two hundred naira (N200) tabloid, as the case may be, daily basis, or even a five hundred naira (N500) weekly magazine?

Needless to say, print media is not only expensive for an average Nigerian, but undoubtedly an exorbitant means of communication, compared to the broadcasting service.

As the global society celebrates World Radio Day every year, there is a need for the entire Nigerian broadcasting industry to be overhauled. In this regard, relevant bodies should, as a matter of urgency, be mandated to switch from current analogue broadcasting to digital broadcasting.

In this context, the recent mandate of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in collaboration with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in accordance with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) directive on migration from analogue to digital broadcasting by all broadcast companies in the country, must be taken very seriously by the authorities concerned.

For their part, members of the National Assembly should enact a formidable law that would mandate the closure of any media company that does not meet the deadline and punish anyone who tries to return to analog broadcasting in the future.

The proposed law would also mandate NBC and other relevant authorities to ensure that the supply of digital broadcasting equipment by any future or contemplated media company is a pre-requisite for the company to be issued a license in question.

Furthermore, the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) should in its capacity assist the government in sensitizing its members on the importance of digital broadcasting. Thus, they should at all times maintain a cordial relationship with NBC with the aim of actualizing a fully digitized broadcasting industry in Nigeria.

Civil society in general is also called upon to follow suit in this awareness-raising crusade. Every organization involved should be comprehensively informed about the innumerable benefits of digital broadcasting.

Yes, the broadcasting service remains the most reliable and affordable means of communication in the world, but it should be noted that its reliability or affordability is likely to become a thing of the past if abused or if attention adequate is not given to the sector. .

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