Telecom giant, MTN, has acquired a licence to provide digital pay television broadcasting services in Nigeria at the cost of N34bn, Sharp Journal can report.
The National Broadcasting Commission confirmed this on Wednesday, saying that it approved for MTN Nigeria part of the country’s 700MHz broadcasting spectrum solely for the purpose.
NBC also spoke against the backdrop of allegations that it had sold the spectrum to MTN without recourse to transparency or the Nigerian Communications Commission, the telecommunications industry regulator that is empowered to sell such spectrum through a transparent auction.
The companies, which made the allegations, had insisted that the spectrum in question must be returned to the NCC as the rightful custodian.
The NBC, however, dismissed the allegations, saying it was not a telecoms spectrum, but a broadcasting spectrum.
The Director-General, NBC, Mr. Emeka Mba, said, “I am pleased to inform you that we have successfully licensed MTN Nigeria to use a part of the 700MHz to provide digital pay-TV broadcasting services. We have thus raised N34bn, slightly less than 50 per cent of our budget.
“I am pleased to inform you, also, that through this singular move, Nigeria has once again pointed the way to other African countries struggling with the effort of finding financing for their own digital switchover programmes.
“It may be necessary to clarify that the use of the band, 470 – 862MHz, solely for UHF television broadcasting service on a primary basis in Nigeria predates both the NBC and NCC.
“As a matter of fact, most administrations in the International Telecommunications Union region 1 use the entire 470 – 862 MHz for UHF television broadcasting prior to ITU WRC-2007 conference.”
Back in 2006, Mba said the ITU planned the entire 470 – 862MHz frequency band for digital UHF television broadcasting for region 1, which the Nigerian administration belonged.
He stated that the planning of the 470 – 862MHz frequency band for digital UHF television was referred to in the ITU circle as GE-06 plan, saying, “And after the signing of the agreements resulting from this plan, it is now referred to as the GE-06 agreement.”
The NBC director-general said the spectrum was sold to enable Nigeria to meet the June 17, 2015 deadline set by the ITU of transiting to digital terrestrial broadcasting.
He said despite that the announcement was in 2006 by ITU, it was not until June 17, 2012 that the White Paper giving direction to the process came out.
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