Everest Amaefule, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the return of N10bn seized from the National Broadcasting Commission by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The Director-General of NBC, Mallam Is’haq Kawu, said this in Abuja on Thursday at a press conference to announce the 20th edition of Africa Broadcasting Conference and Exhibition coming up in Abuja next week.
The money is part of the funds realised by the NBC from the controversial sale of frequency to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited.
The funds had been a subject of probe by the EFCC following allegation that the broadcast regulatory agency failed to remit it to the Treasury Single Account at the time prescribed by the Federal Government.
The NBC had claimed that the funds were meant for projects being executed for the country’s migration to digital broadcasting.
Kawu said the funds would be channelled towards projects and programmes aimed at achieving the transition to digital broadcasting for which a deadline of June 2017 had been set.
He added that the NBC was planning to establish a content development for the broadcast industry as the era of digitisation was expected to create immense need for content development as a result of multiple channels to be witnessed in the new era.
The NBC boss said, “We are going to assist a lot of young people to get finances for the production of their contents. We are thinking in terms of content development fund within the NBC and the NBC also provides opportunity for young content providers.”
According to Kawu, a 10 per cent increase in the digitisation of the broadcast industry is predicted to create one million new jobs.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has given assurance that the digital switchover from analogue television would be achieved in the Federal Capital Territory before the end of the year.
Mohammed gave the assurance after a guided facility tour of Pinnacle Communication Limited – the licensed signal distributor of the DSO in the FCT and Trefonics, a manufacturer of Set-Top-Boxes.
He said it was imperative to ascertain the level of preparation of all the stakeholders in order to ensure a successful roll-out in Abuja.
The minister said, “We are very much on track but I think it’s important to understand what the Digital Switch Over entails. It entails that all the component actors be ready.”
He expressed satisfaction with the signal distributor as well as the Set-Top-Box manufacturer, adding that they were on track to meeting the switch over date.