THE DYNAMICS OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IN TELEVISION BROADCASTING IN NIGERIA
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY Digital technology application in modern broadcasting has transformed and revolutionized the traditional Television broadcasting into a positive innovative concept of global networking society often referred to as digitization technology convergence. Contextual emphasis on technological innovation which has a leapfrog effect on broadcasting has yielded to change. This change has tremendously revolutionized broadcasting from the monolithic model (analogue) to an interactive Omni-directional model (digital) in line with modern global trends. Communication media are hence, on the move, constantly evolving and changing the world we live in. It is no longer enough to learn about the conventional (print, radio, television and film) mass media as computers and telecommunications are converging to create exciting new media forms (Adamu, 2009:1). The arrival of digital broadcasting has brought outstanding exciting changes to mass communication. Digital technologies are shifting the indispensable principles of broadcasting as its application in Nigeria has brought tremendous improvements in herTelevision broadcasting. Interactivity is adding important new dimensions to broadcast services. Listeners now have easier right of entry to wider range of content through various transmission media. They are now able to opt for the services they want at a time expedient to them and to benefit from superior two way communication. Little wonder Akpan (2009:9) affirms that ?we are living in a digital revolution era.? This is made more lucid by Castells (2009:55a) who wrote that with the diffusion of the Internet, a new form of interactive communication has emerged, characterized by the capacity of sending messages to many irrespective of their place of origin, in real time or chosen time, and with the possibility of using point-to-point communication, narrow casting or broadcasting depending on the purpose and characteristics of the intended communication practice. In this regard, digital technology is seen through the dimension of what Cowhey and Aronson characterize as ?the inflection? or what some time ago, Rice, et al cited in Castells (2009:3) identified as the emergence of new media through the interaction of technological change and communication. The convergence of media has been made possible by digital technologies which have transformed sending and receiving of messages as many rapid growing technological advancement and innovations have cut across all strata of our private, public and national life. Technology has continued to affect the way we do things. For instance, broadcast journalism has gone through various transformations from the ancient to modern times. The advent of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has indeed led to technological revolution across the globe and it has continued to change the global, social and economic milieus of countries making use of these technologies thereby reinforcing the reality of the globalization concept. Globalization is a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies as well as government of different nations. This process is driven by international trade and investment as well as information and communication technology? (Nwakerendu, 2009:5). The dynamics of broadcasting has contributed immensely towards the reunification of our society, recognizing the interest of the various segments in our society. For instance, Nigeria which is composed of different tribes, cultures, beliefs and religions, with the adoption of digital broadcasting technology, the various needs of the groups could be accommodated. The National Broadcasting Commission recognizes this digitization, the conversion of the broadcast and communication systems from analogue to digital as an important global movement driven by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that will revolutionize broadcasting as we know it. Digitizations both improves the quality of reception and ensure more efficient use of the spectrum, which is scarce and finite natural resource belonging to all Nigerian?s and held in trust by licensees. The digitization of analogue broadcasting signal is one of the most significant changes in broadcast environment today. There has been a clear prospect internationally for some years that existing analogue television and radio be replaced by digital transmission. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) set a deadline for the full transition to digital broadcast (VHF) for 2015 and (UHF) for 2020. Nigeria is a signatory to this agreement. As a result of the presidential approval in December 2007 for digitalTelevision broadcasting, Nigeria has joined the global train on transition to digitization. This undoubtedly has placed some burden on the mass media, educational institution and government through its regulatory agencies in sensitizing and educating Nigerians on the implications of the new technology. The scheme for Nigerian transition from analogue to digital broadcasting started in 2004 when the country attended the ITU conference in Senegal and another in Geneva in 2006. At both conferences, it was collectively agreed that by 2015, all VHF channels should have gone digital while UHF transition was placed for 2020. Nigeria however, adjusted theirs to 2017. The endorsement for digitization of broadcasting was immediately followed with the inauguration of Presidential Advisory Committee on digitization on Monday 13th October 2008 in Abuja. At the inauguration of the committee in Abuja, the president, Umaru Yar?Adua represented by the then minister of information and communications Mr. John Ogar Odey said digitization would lead to efficient use of the spectrum as well as increase the audio and video quality of broadcast contents. He reiterated the government?s doggedness not to be left at the rear in the digital revolution (Dunu and Ukwueze, 2009:3). As a result, the application of digital technology inTelevision broadcasting has continued to generate tremendous prospects and challenges in Nigeria. The benefits and challenges of digitization have continued to trigger reactions among media professionals and stakeholders. In Nigeria for instance, the adoption of high definition radio (HDR) which is favoured in the United States, the digital audio broadcasting (DAB) favoured by the Europe and the digital audio Mondia (DAM) favoured by Asia continues to generate argument in favor or against which of these technologies will best suit Nigeria. According to Oduola (2010:10) HD radio will favor Nigeria, this is because consumers wouldn?t have to dispose of their analogue radio set or remove the antennas. All they need to do is purchase a setup- box (STB). In the broadcast station, they will need a digital compliance exciter. This is a mini-transmitter which receives the program signal from the station en route to the transmitter where the modulation takes place and amplified to where radio frequency is generated. The exciter can transmit signal on its own only that the reach will be limited. This goes in accordance with Regester and Larkin (2008:183) that it is imperative to tell your own story, to tell it all and to tell it fast. In Nigeria, most people are comfortable with the use of their analog radios and televisions, so it becomes difficult to convince them of what digitization is all about. It is pertinent to help them understand the benefits of digitization. For instance, if our transmission is still in analog and that of Republic of Benin in digital, there could be interference and this will attract penalty on the part of Nigeria. In Africa, we must march through this transition from analogue to digital signal; it is an opportunity we must get right. This means that procurement of transmitting equipment, re-training of cameramen, presenters, producers and even more so technicians are necessary. This is in harmony with Wilson?s assertion that ?the digitization of information and the convergence of one separate industry into a new amalgamation of production, distribution and consumption activities is made possible by the shift from analog to digital technologies? as quoted in (Mojaye, Salawu, and Olowun, 2007:176). Abayomi Bolariwa, the Director General of National Broadcasting Commission thus gave illustration of what digitization is all about in this way: Digitization is not only about broadcast equipment; it is about digitization of broadcast signal. Today from the broadcast station to our homes is analog; tomorrow it will be digital. For instance, if you have a modern car and the local mechanic tells you that there is something called brain box, it means that you have all the electronic system in the car being controlled by one source (the brain box) and if you interface it with a computer you can diagnose what is wrong with the car. Again, if you have modern cell phone, you can make calls, check e-mails data, watch videos and that?s a triple play which is digitization at one level, you have microphone and remote controls telling you the level of digitization in your own equipment, and at your homes today you have satellite receivers and they have digital signals coming into your home and you receive them with an interface or converter called decoders to enable you receive the digital signal coming from the satellite station. In like manner, those inTelevision broadcasting like NTA will now digitize their signals in their transmission stations and send to our homes. Viewers will be able to receive signals if they have a high breed turner receiver called a set-top box as a decoder which converts the digital transmission to their analog receivers. In this sense, it means stations now have new digitized transmission equipment; it also means viewers at home must have a new means of receiving digital transmission. However, it is important to note that analog is not compatible with digital signal. Before now, we converted from black and white television to colour; this was because the technology was compatible. If one has a black and white television and a station is transmitting in colour, he will receive it in black and white but in this case if a station is transmitting a digital signal and one has Analogue set there is no way he can receive that signal unless there is an interface. Producers of broadcasting contents have to invest in broadcasting hardware; they have to imbibe on a new way of doing things both in their camera acquisition, equipment and in their production and post production. Further, editing machine and films will be digitized and in a new way different from the way things were done ten years ago. Digitization is more or less something like an evolution of technology. It is not like something that started new. The one we are concerned with is the digitization inTelevision broadcasting i.e. the UHF and VHF band which is the most popular band because that is where people watch and tune most without paying for it. Apart from that, we have several other broadcasting Channels that started much earlier before all these. Digitization is an evolution of science because telephone service and G.S.M phones are all products of digitization; computers started from the mainframe to desktop to laptops and now there is notebooks and palmtops. Everything is becoming miniaturized and small. The term ?Convergence? is often used to describe ?the synergies between technology, media and information that are changing societies worldwide. It is also in conjunction with journalism and media to help us understand how the Internet and broadband wireless devices have shifted control from the source to receiver? (Adamu, 2009:3). Satellites and cables are already digitized; the decoders are used to convert their digital signals. Put inTelevision broadcasting, we need a set-top box that will convert their digital signals so that viewers and listeners can access their content. One advantage of digitization in broadcasting is the compression of the frequency band spectrum. For example, the frequency that could carry only one channel will now be able to carry six or more channels. According to Musa Kamarudeen, the Chief Engineering National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Abuja, ?South Africa has given only one frequency to transmit six channels?. Now assuming Nigeria has up to 30 frequencies that will transmit six channels each, it then means that we are going to have up to 180 channels. Finally,Television broadcasting eludes the fear of cultural imperialism while the regulation will still be under the control of the various regulatory bodies like, National Broadcasting Commission, Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria e.tc. 1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM The dynamics of digital technology in Television broadcasting in Nigeria was enunciated by Nigeria?s involvement in the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting following the ITU?s conference in Senegal and Geneva in 2004 and 2006 respectively. Since then, there has been growing concern among stakeholders in the broadcast sector on the preparedness of Nigeria to adopt this new technology. Also, is the Nigerian broadcast environment adequately prepared for the application of digital technology inTelevision broadcasting? Again, how prepared is the Nigerian government in their policies and plans towards the adoption of this new technology in creating awareness and sensitizing the citizenry? Similarly, the application of digital technology depends to a large extent on the level of manpower to man this new technology. Therefore, adequate training to enhance capacity building and utilization will be enhanced through skill acquisition and manpower development. Thus, does Nigeria have enough manpower to operate this new technology? Further, the cost of new digital technological acquisition is usually high both on the side of the media- owners (content- providers) and on the side of consumers (the Nigerian- populace). What steps therefore should be taken to reduce or subsidize the high cost associated with digital technology? Answers to these leaves one with no option than to carry out a study of this nature that would examine the place of Nigeria in the dynamism of digital technology in the broadcast industry. 1.3 Objectives of Study The objectives of the research shall be as follows: 1. To ascertain the level of people?s awareness of digital technology. 2. To examine the extent of Nigeria?s preparedness for the continuous application of digital technology. 3. To examine the measures adopted to subsidize the high cost of digital technology and ensure the adoption of this project in the national policy and plans. 4. To examine the steps taken by the government towards actualizing the continuous growth of digital technology application in Nigeria. 5. To ascertain the level of Nigerians? perception of digital technology in contemporary broadcasting. 1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY Digital technology has opened a world of possibilities for broadcasting. Indeed, broadcasting only occupies fewer spectrums thus digital technology application will open a windfall of spectrums. However, this study will address the dynamism associated with digital technology application in broadcasting as well as help the consumers of broadcast contents and producers of those contents to understand the nitty-gritty and import of this digital divide. It will also recommend possible steps government should take in order to ensure that the general public as well as media owners survive the effect of the digitization exercise viz-a-viz adequate sensitization and awareness, looking at its environmental impact on stakeholders. Nevertheless, this study will be exhaustive in nature, and would serve as a whetstone for further research in the field of digital technology application in Nigeria. This study however is significant to the media owners, practitioners, the stakeholders as well as consumers of the broadcast content; besides the above facts we have lucidly elucidated. 1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS The digital technology application inTelevision broadcasting is a new concept. In Nigeria, it is important to imagine the curiosity and interest these might have generated. Consequently, to buttress and achieve the purpose of this study the following research questions will aid understanding of this phenomenon: 1. What is the level of people?s awareness about digital technology? 2. How prepared is Nigeria for the application of digital technology? 3. What are the measures adopted by the Nigerian government to subsidize the high cost of digital technology and ensure the adoption of this project in the national policy and plans? 4. What are the steps taken by the government towards actualizing the continuous growth of digital technology application in Nigeria? 5. What is people?s perception of digital technology in contemporary broadcasting? 1.6 BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CASE STUDY (NTA) The Nigerian Television Authority also known as NTA is a Nigerian government owned and partly commercial broadcaster that was inaugurated in 1977, at inauguration it had monopoly on television broadcasting in Nigeria. The NTA runs the biggest television network in the country with stations in several parts of Nigeria. As at 2014, NTA had 101 stations in state capitals and towns of Nigeria, out of those stations are nine network centers which are the stations at Ibadan, Jos, Enugu, Kaduna, Lagos, Benin, Makurdi, Maiduguri and Sokoto. NTA has a digital pay television service called Startimes established in 2010; it is a partnership with Star Communications Technology of China. Additional NTA channels with the provider include NTA Yoruba, NTA Igbo, NTA Hausa, NTA Sports 24 and NTA Parliamentary Channel. 1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY Due to the researcher?s special challenge (visual), the biggest challenges were on movement and the complexities of data gathering and management. This was especially in the areas of sourcing material for the project because of the newness of the subject ? Digitization Technology Convergence? and its special areas in ?terrestrial broadcasting.? Getting materials and other relevant published works on the subject matter proved difficult. However, a research of this magnitude goes along with high cost of financial and material resources which are scarce. 1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS Every research has a conceptual framework which forms the basis of operational terms of expression used to drive or buttress the points. Some of these expressions are briefly outlined below: 1. Convergence ? This term is often used to describe the synergies between technology, media, and information that are changing societies worldwide. 2. Digitization ? The term simply means the conversion, storage and preservation of sound and pictures from analog system into digital form. 3. Tangential ? Divergent applications in broadcasting. 4.Television ? The word is taken from the term ?territory.? This means the transmission of digital broadcasting signals into aTelevision spectrum of convergence such as UHF and VHF.
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