BON Rejects the NCC’s Plan to sell the 600MHz Spectrum

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The Nigerian Communication Commission’s plan to sell broadcast frequency in the 600MHz spectrum band threatens over 80% of TV viewers nationwide, its sister broadcast regulator has been warned.

Mr Reuben Muoka, NCC Public Affairs Director, had last month announced the telecoms regulator’s plan to sell the frequency Slots in the 600MHz Spectrum band through “Administrative Assignment” which means that they will not be sold through auction.

But the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) which rejected the planned sale of the 600MHz spectrum band by NCC says it is exclusively allocated to broadcasting in the country, according to Dr. Yemisi Bamgbose, BON Executive Secretary.

Sale of 600 MHz by NCC opens Nigeria to ‘unhindered penetration by foreign media organs’
BON’s rejection was conveyed in a letter to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Director-General called for urgent steps to be taken to stop the planned sale of the broadcast spectrum by NCC.

Bangbose warns that NCC’s planned sale of the band before the analogue switch-off will result in the denial of access to TV broadcasting of over 80% of Nigerians that depend on the electronic broadcast medium nationwide for information and public enlightenment, in the letter, titled “An Urgent Call to NBC to Save Television Broadcasting from Extermination” and dated 25 April 2023.

“Our attention has been drawn to an advertisement placed by the NCC, titled ‘Availability of Frequency Slots in the 600 MHz Spectrum Band’, published on March 23, 2023.

“In the said advertisement,” BON said, “the NCC brought notice to the general public on the availability of frequency slots in the 600MHz spectrum band for sale. The advertisement further stated that submission of interest closes on or before the close of business on April 28, 2023.”

The broadcast interest group, BON, wants the NBC to take the required legal steps to prevent the sale of the spectrum band until after the completion of the Digital Switchover (DSO) as stipulated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and as stated in the Federal Government White Paper on digitization, according to Dr Bamgbose.

“Director General, Sir, if this sale of the primary spectrum allocated to broadcasting is allowed to happen, all television stations operating on frequency 600MHz will be affected negatively,” BON said

“Those that will be affected include all DTT operators; ITS; Pinnacle; many private television stations; majority of state government-owned stations; some NTA community and state stations operating within the range of 600MHz frequency,” the broadcast group said.

“The Director General will recall that the frequency 700-800MHz,” Dr Bamgbose said, “housing some state government-owned and private stations, have been sold to telecoms operators, a decision that has created problems that have not been resolved”

BON said that if the telecoms regulator, NCC, is allowed to proceed with the proposed sale of the spectrum, the development will leave Nigeria’s broadcast space for “unhindered penetration by foreign media organs” the negative consequences of which Dr Bamgbose said “will be significant.”