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Assessment Of Challenges And Prospects Of Digitalization In Select Broadcast Stations In Owerri Metropolis

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ABSTRACT

This study examined the challenges and prospects of digitalization in select broadcast stations in Owerri metropolis. The stations studied were; NTA 12 Owerri, Orient TV and Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) Owerri. Some of the objectives were to establish the prospect of implementation of digitalization in the select broadcast station and to find out the availability of ICT tools that facilitate the implementation of digitalization in the select broadcast stations. The study adopted the technological determinism, diffusion of innovation, modernization and uses & gratification theories. Survey design was adopted and data gathered by the use of questionnaire administered to the staff of the select broadcast stations under study. The sample was drawn from a population of 244 staff i.e. copies of the instrument was administered to all the staff in the three select broadcast stations using purposive sampling technique. Some of the findings reveals that there is a widespread familiarity of the concept and workings of digitalization among the staff of the select broadcast stations and a strong agreement among staff regarding the potential benefits of digitalization in the stations. The researcher thus recommends among other things that broadcast stations should begin to organize reasonable measures to equip the broadcasters with the necessary knowledge and skills for the transition to digital broadcasting.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

The term digitalization seem to be the driving force behind many modern developments in the broadcast industry in the world and thus it has assumed a very significant place in professional and academics discourse all over the world. Digitalization is the current trend in broadcasting, both in Nigeria and the world over. It is a technological innovation that will change the scope of radio and television broadcasting in this country and beyond. By definition, digitization is the process of conversion of analog information in any form: text, photographs, voice, etc. to digital form with suitable electronic devices, such as a scanner or specialized computer chips, so that the information can be processed, stored and transmitted through digital circuits, equipment, and networks (Idachaba, 2018).

Operationally, digitalization of broadcasting is the process of launching the DTT platform and switching off analogue broadcast platforms. Maynard (2010) describes digitalization as “a mega media”, whereby the much about the ways we define, gather and produce news will have to change. Specifically, the changes will be as follows: digital radio involves the pure digital transmission medium that improves the sound quality of radio broadcasts, virtually eliminating static, hiss, pops and fades and offers data display capabilities on receivers and opens up opportunity for multicasting: broadcasting multiple high-quality channels on each frequency (Robinson, 2004 & Okpanachi, 2008); whereas digitization of video signals reduces their sizes; therefore, more information can be carried over phone wires and stored (Baran, 2010).

The benefits of digitalization are numerous and have been expressed in many literatures. The benefits of digitalization could be in the direction of programme content, media convergence, quality signals and multiple channels. These benefits could also include an increase in efficiency in the use of spectrum and the launch of new services for viewers, which in turn, helps to secure the future of the terrestrial television as a viable economic platform. Digitised information is easier to store, access and transmit and digitization is used by a number of Consumer electronic devices. As countries increasingly adopt digital TV technology, analogue TV will become obsolete, making its maintenance difficult and costly (Ichadaba, 2018 & Ihechu and Uche, 2012).

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The matter of digitalization of the broadcast media came into limelight on June 16, 2006 when a resolution on digitization for broadcasters was reached for countries of Europe, Africa, Middle East as well as the Islamic Republic of Iran. This resolution was reached in Geneva, Switzerland at an International conference organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). A deadline of 2015 was agreed upon for the effective take-off of digitization of the broadcast media. As part of the resolution, the ITU digitization deadline was limited to digitization of television broadcasting alone, while a deadline for radio was not spelt out or set. Furthermore, the ITU agreement allows for an additional five years to 2020 for many African countries of which Nigeria is inclusive. At the end of this resolution, representatives of 120 countries including Nigeria sat, agreed, adopted and signed the digitization treaty therefore making it binding on these countries.

Within a 10-year window, each country was allowed to choose its own switch off date. Several countries chose one single date for all broadcast operations to switch over to digital broadcasting while others such as the United Kingdom and India chose different dates for different cities and regions within their territories. Buoyed by optimism, stakeholders in the Nigerian broadcast industry adopted June 17, 2012 as the nation’s switchover date. This date was approved by the Late President Umaru Yar’adua. By this approval, June 17th, 2012 became the deadline for the official switch over to digital broadcasting. This date is three years earlier than the ITU’s deadline (Ocholi, 2009). The Netherlands became the first country to transit to digital broadcasting, barely a year after the policy was announced. Other countries followed suit, they include Andorra, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and Norway etc.

Unfortunately, for Nigeria, the 2012 date could not be realized. Due to this failure which was peculiar to Nigeria only, a new deadline was again set to switch over to digital from analogue broadcasting. The new deadline was set for 17th June, 2015. The Federal Government took some steps to ensure that the country met this deadline. DigiTeam is made up of a group of professionals who have not only contributed immensely to the industry but have years of experience to handle the mandate. This group of professionals was to work in collaboration with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). Other stakeholders were, Broadcast Signal Distributors, Set-Top-Box manufacturers, channel owners, partners such as CCNL and In-view Technologies and Call Centre Operators (Ichadaba, 2018).

Again unfortunately, despite the assurance given by the NBC, DG, Nigeria failed the second time to meet the ITU deadline. According to the Director General of NBC, Nigeria has achieved 20% digitization so far. 20% by all standards is a poor grade and this invariably means that Nigeria has not done well as far as this issue of digitization is concerned. After Nigeria’s failure to meet the second deadline, member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) chose yet another date, June, 2017 as the new deadline for the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting in the sub-region.

Barely one year to the 2017 deadline, Nigeria transited from analogue to digital television viewing on April 30, 2016 in the city of Jos, the Plateau State Capital when it launched the pilot phase of the Federal Government’s digital transmission project that kick started the digitalization process in Nigeria. While the digital switch-over (DSO) in Nigeria became a reality in 2016, it was not total and comprehensive. The National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, had only listed six states, one from each geo-political zone of the country, for DSO. The states are Kaduna in North-West, Kwara in North-Central, Gombe in North-East, Enugu in South-East, Osun in South-West and Delta in South-South. With that move, there appeared to be a fresh breath of hope for the June 20, 2017 deadline for Nigeria to complete the digital switchover and achieve analogue switch off. But in 2018, in the absence of complete digital switchover and analogue switch off, academic interests have been elicited to understand the prospects and challenges of digitalization by Nigerian broadcast stations.

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In view of the foregoing, it is important to gauge the prospects and challenges of digitalization by Nigerian broadcast stations and be able to understand factors affecting complete digital switchover and achieve analogue switch off, and measure extent of their readiness in doing so in the future.  To do so, this study will assess the challenges and prospects of digitalization in select broadcast stations in Owerri metropolis, Nigeria.

Statement of the Problem

Nigeria has joined the global digitalization train. But the speed of decision and implementation has been less than inspiring. With a country specific switchover deadline fixed and failed a number of times and ultimately fixed at 2017, the eventual transition was achieved on April 30, 2016 in the city of Jos, the Plateau State Capital when it launched the pilot phase of the Federal Government’s digital transmission project that kick started the digitalization process in Nigeria. While the digital switch-over (DSO) in Nigeria became a reality in 2016, it was not total and comprehensive. After a number of failed deadlines and slow pace achieved in the total digital switchover and analogue switch off despite the country’s reputation as one of the most vibrant and varied media landscapes in Africa, one begins to wonder what challenges broadcast stations face in the digitalization efforts and what efforts are they making to position themselves to be ready for full implementation of digitalisation? While a lot of attention has been paid on the regulatory efforts by governments and lack of corresponding pace in the complete switchover, have the stations operators themselves put in place a broad-based technology in the form of ICT tools that facilitate the full implementation of digitalisation? What are the perspectives of handlers of broadcast stations in Owerri metropolis regarding their readiness and challenges facing implementation of digitalization in their stations?

Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study are to:

  1. Establish the prospect of implementation of digitalization in the select broadcast stations.
  2. Examine the potential benefits of implementation of digitalization in the select broadcast stations.
  • Know the range of challenges facing the full implementation of digitalization in the select broadcast stations.
  1. Find out the availability of ICT tools that facilitate the implementation of digitalization in the select broadcast stations.

Research Questions

This research seeks to find answers to the following questions.

  1. What is the prospect of implementation of digitalization in the select broadcast stations?
  2. What are the potential benefits of implementation of digitalization in the select broadcast stations?
  • What are the various challenges facing the full implementation of digitalization in the select broadcast stations?
  1. To what extent do the select broadcast stations own the ICT tools that facilitate the implementation of digitalization?

 Significance of the Study

This study would be beneficial in the following ways: The findings would help to reposition the thought pattern and help media professionals to get acquainted with the new technologies to help produce quality programmes and facilitate the implementation of digitalisation. It takes the onus away from the government onto the role the owners of the various broadcast media (in the case of privately-owned stations) in positioning their stations for digitalization.

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The finding of this study would help us to be able to understand factors affecting complete digital switchover and achieve analogue switch off, and measure extent of the readiness of individual broadcast stations in doing so in the future.  The findings of this research would add to the existing literatures and act as a handy material for students who might have interest in researching further on the topic.

Delimitation of the Study

This study was conducted to examine the likelihood of future implementation of digitalization by select broadcast stations in Owerri metropolis based on how far they are positioning themselves for digitalization using requisite technologies. The stations of interest include: NTA 12 Owerri, Orient TV and Imo State Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) Owerri. The study also looked at the challenges that those stations face in their effort to implement digitalization. The choice of Owerri is obvious as it has been identified as one of the cities with the largest concentration of media in Nigeria, which explain its choice. The largest being Lagos (and also being the city with the largest media concentration in Africa); other cities are Ibadan, Abuja and Enugu. This paper specifically deals with the digitalization of television broadcasting in the metropolis. Other broadcast media i.e. radio, film, sound recording are not covered by the paper for easy analysis and for the fact that there is more urgency in the digitalization of TV around the world because of the shorter deadline. In finding out the availability of and proficiency with ICT tools that facilitate digitalization, the work restricts itself to only new media (Internet), satellite technology, cable system, computer, digital cameras, fibre optic, Teledex and telephone employed in broadcasting.

 Definitions of Terms

For a proper understanding of this work, key terms used are defined based on their operational relevance to this study.

  1. Applicable ICT tools: ICT tools that are used in broadcast and which facilitate the implementation of digitalization.
  2. Broadcast: This is the business of sending out radio and television signals over a distance, to a large heterogeneous audience by means of airwaves.
  • Broadcast Media: This is that electronic media or channel, specifically the television as used in this study, that uses the airwaves which enables signals and information to be transmitted to a large and diverse audience. The stations of interest include: NTA Port-Harcourt, Rivers State Television (RSTV) Port–Harcourt and AIT Port-Harcourt.
  1. Challenges: Policy, financial, manpower, legal, social and political constraints that may hinder future implementation of digitalization.
  2. Digital: Digital denotes the process whereby broadcast stations operate by processing or transforming information that is supplied and stored in the form of a series of binary digits.
  3. Digitalization: refers to the switching over by broadcast station in Port-Harcourt to digital and switching off from analogue.
  • ICT: They are technologies used in broadcast stations to share, distribute and gather information, and are mostly supported by computers and computer networks.
  • Potentials: Likelihood for future implementation of digitalization.

Pages:  39

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF               

Chapters: 1-5                                          

Source: Seminar

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.       

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