IMPACT OF DIGITIZATION OF THE BROADCASTING MEDIA IN NIGERIA. A STUDY OF NIGERIA TELEVISION AUTHORITY (NTA )
1.1 Background of the Study
Unlike many other inventions throughout history, the history of the television credits many inventors instead of just one. In this case, there were many inventors working on the idea of watching pictures on the screen.
The earliest proposal was in 1908, in a paper by A.A Campbell-Swinton which postulated the use of Cathode rays. The First Practical demonstrations of television, however, were developed using electromechanical methods to scan, transmit, and reproduce image. As electronic camera and display tubes were perfected, electromechanical television gave way to all-electronic systems in nearly all applications.
The beginnings of mechanical television can be traced back to the discovery of the photoconductivity of the element selenium by Willoughby by Smith in 1873, the invention of a scanning disk by Paul Gottlieb Nipkow in 1884 and John Logie Baird’s demonstration of televised moving Images in 1926. (Wikipedia, 2010).
A 23 year old German University student, Paul Nipkow proposed and patented the first electromechanical television system in 1884. Although he never built a working model of the system, variations of Nipkow’s spinning – disk “image rasterizer” for television became exceedingly common, and remained in use until 1939. Constantin Perskyi coined the word television in a paper read to the International Electricity Congress at the international world fair in Paris on August 25, 1900. Perskyi’s paper reviewed the existing electromechanical technologies, mentioning the work of Nipkow and others.
However, it was not until 1907 that developments in amplification tube technology, by Lee Deforest and Arthur Kom among others, made the design practical. The first demonstration of the instantaneous transmission of still Sillhoutte images was by Georges Rigrioux and as a Fournier in Paris in 1909, using a rotating mirror – drum as the scanner and a matrix of 64 selenium cells as the receiver.
In 1911, Boris Rosing and his student Vladimir Zworykin created a television system that used a mechanical mirror – drum scanner to transmit, in Zworykin’s words, “very crude images” over wires to the “Braun Tube” (Cathode ray tube or “CRT”) in the receiver. Moving images were not possible because, in the scanner, “the sensitivity was not enough and the selenium cell was very laggy”. On March 25, 1925, Scottish Inventor John Logie Baird gave the first public demonstration of televised silhouette images in motion, at Selfridge’s Department store in London. AT & T’s bell Telephone laboratories transmitted halftone still images of transparencies in May 1925. On June 13 of that year, Charles Frances Jenkins transmitted the silhouette image of a toy windmill in motion, over a distance of five miles from a naval radio station in Maryland to his laboratory in Washington, using a lensed disk scanner with a 48-line resolution.
However, if Television is defined as the live transmission of moving images with continuous tonal variation, Baird first achieved this privately on October 2, 1925. But strictly speaking Baird had not yet achieved moving images on October 2. His scanner worked at only five images, per second, below the threshold required to give the illusion of motion usually defined as at least 12 images per second. By January, he had improved the scan rate to 12.5 images per second.
Television Broadcasting in Nigeria started with the initiative of the first Western Region premier Chief Obafemi Awolowo who on October 31, 1959 launched television broadcasting at Ibadan the head quarters of the region. The Western Region went into partnership with the Overseas Rediffusion Limited. The Western Nigerian Radiovision services limited were created with the responsibility of radio and television broadcasting under one management.
Nigeria as the giant of Africa has to her credit, the first television outfit in Africa, the Western Nigeria Television (WNTV) on NTA Ibadan. The emergence of what is known today as Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) was borne out of the sheer desire to cater for the crying needs of variegated audience in terms of News gathering, packaging and transmission; this became the second oldest station after (WNTV) resuming transmission on 1st October, 1960. The Degree No 24 of 1977 caused all existing television stations in the country to be taken over by the federal government and then led to a change of name to Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
However, television broadcasting in Nigeria since inception has been transmitting through analogue television which use complete waves to transmit pictures and sounds. The major drawback of this is that location plays an integral factor, disabling, distorting images and audio on Television in rural areas (Kombol: 2008, P. 13).
Over the years, television transmission had grown from strength to strength. It moved from monochrome (black and white) to colour transmission and today we talk of Digitization.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) a United Nations Organization body responsible for co-ordinating the use of Telecommunication among nations in its 17th plenipotentiary conference in Turkey, ratified a treaty engendering the digitization of broadcast in every member state before 2015. In consonance with the above Treaty and with the intent to beat this deadline, the national Broadcasting Commission which is Nigeria’s broadcast regulatory body gave an ultimatum to Nigeria broadcast firms to digitalize its operations before 17 June 2012 or stand licence revocation. Three years ahead of the global deadline, the date was however shifted because it is seen all over that the broadcasting industry was not fully prepared for the digitization to kick off. A new date was then issued by the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission where Mr. Yomi Bolarinwa, Director General, national broadcasting commission announced to the whole world that Nigeria will achieve the digitization of its broadcast stations by June 17 2015.
It is unarguable to state that to be in the leading position in today’s highly technological and competitive media industry the world over, Nigeria must strive to acquire and utilize state of-the-art information and communication technologies in its daily news, programme transmission etc. Anything short of this will spell doom for such media organization.
According to Anaeto et al (2008, P. 6) Information Communication Technology has been the converging platform for different word of media communication, information machine and technologies and equipment i.e. Radio, Television, Computers, satellites, Fibre optic Cables, phones, Facsimile machine etc. Consequently, the acquisition, utilization and application of information communication technology in media practice today makes the world activity less cumbersome, faster and error proof. The foregoing views is in tenderm with realistic scholarly position’ adopted by Maid (1996, P:13), who posits that new information, communication technologies have revolutionized information gathering, processing, storage, retrieval and transmission, making information available even more widely, rapidly and less expensive. They do not only gather, process and disseminate information, they can also arrange, marshall and select information rapidly.
Inspite of the above merits, the truth still remains that acquisition and application of these advanced media, technologies by media outfits in Nigeria especially the government owned stations in their gathering, packaging and transmission equipment is still insufficient.
Indeed, the recent survey carried out in a bid to ascertain the current state of acquisition and utilization of ICT facilities by NTA Enugu Channel 8, which is the study of this project, clearly depicts that the station has not fully embraced this trend in the overall packaging and transmission of News and programmes.
Ibeh (2009), Deputy Director Engineering, NTA seems to agree with the foregoing viewpoint when he stated that although the station has technologies in the packaging and transmission of its news programme, yet such sophisticated communication equipment are still inadequate.
The above viewpoint throws more light to challenges and hindrance of digitization of media broadcast which is a progeny of information communication technology. It also presupposes that inspite of the much – touted technological improvement, there are still gaps in the media world especially in developing countries like Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in its annual stations on TV and radio broadcast in Nigeria, observed that most private and public owned broadcast media outfit are yet to make digital transmission part of their daily broadcasting and even those who are into it are partially implementing it. This research intends to look at the impact of the digitization of the Nigeria broadcasting media. The focus is on NTA Enugu.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To identify problems hindering the digitization of broadcasting in Nigeria.
- To evaluate the possible way of meeting these challenges.
iii. To understand the socio-economic advantages of digitizing in the broadcasting industry.
1.4 Research Questions
The research questions involved in this study were as follows:-
- To what extent is the digitization of TV broadcast going to enhance audio visual transmission?
- How can Information and Communication Technology equipment facilitate digital broadcasting?
- Does Digital television have advantages over Analogue broadcasting?
1.5 Scope of the Study
This study focuses on the challenges and possibilities of digital broadcasting in Nigeria, using NTA Enugu Channel 8 as study area.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is timely because it is on one of the most current and prominent issues. Today, there is intense competition in broadcasting industry all over the world.
Also, the study will be of immense benefit to Nigerians especially media professionals as it focuses on providing possible sensitization on making digitization a reality.
It is expected that this, will shade more light on where and how media outfit will deliver quality services to the satisfaction of the teaming audience.
Finally, students of mass communication will also find the work useful as it touches on their area of specialization.
1.7 The Key Terms used in the topic of the Study are defined operationally thus:
Impact: The influence and impression created by television programmes.
Digitization: This means the use of digital data rather than analogue waveforms to carry broadcasting over television channel.
Broadcast Media: This means one of the mass media channels that make use of television and radio.