The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris has said that the Federal Government is committed to the digitization of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) to enable it to compete globally.
This was in spite of a recent failed attempt by the immediate past Minister, Lai Muhammed, to secure a $500 million loan to digitize the government-owned broadcast station. NTA has also been lamenting that funding constraint and dwindling ad revenue has been affecting its operations.
However, Idris who paid a working visit to the Headquarters of NTA on Tuesday in Abuja said he would mobilize resources for the TV station to uplift it to a global standard.
While noting that the purpose of the visit was to gain insights on the challenge facing the NTA, the Minister said:
- “I am pleased with your digital advancement, the quality of studios, and the capacity to produce movies. NTA has recorded tremendous process, but the best of NTA is yet to come.
- “However, the modernization and the digitization of NTA has to be improved. I want NTA to become the destination point of other TV stations in the country. I want NTA to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best TV stations in the world. I would like to assure you that I will mobilise the resources needed to improve the NTA.
- “So much is happening here, but we will do more to ensure that the station becomes the best in the world.”
Speaking, the Director-General of NTA, Salihu Abdulhamid-Dembos said the role of the Minister of Information and National Orientation was crucial in disseminating accurate and timely information to the citizens of the country.
The NTA boss, however, explained that the station was facing challenges such as funding constraints, insufficient infrastructure, competition, a decrease in advertising revenue, and a low level of technological advancements
- “Addressing these challenges requires collaboration between government and the NTA. We, at NTA, are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism, broadcasting, and media excellence. We are determined to play our part in promoting national unity, social cohesion, and the dissemination of accurate information.”
Despite the challenges, Abdulhamid-Dembos said the station had recorded some achievements in recent times, which include the implementation of modern management techniques and technology to improve workflow and enhancement, staff training, and development of programs.
Others were upgrading broadcasting equipment and technology for higher signal quality, the network of reporters and correspondents with the establishment of Bureaus in the UK, USA, Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa.
Abdulhamid-Dembos also said the station had leveraged social media and online platforms for real-time news dissemination.
What you should know
The immediate past Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, had in 2020 sought to take a $500 million loan from the China Export-Import Bank to digitize NTA. Appearing before a Senate committee to defend the loan, Muhammed said NTA would be able to compete with the likes of Cable News Network (CNN) if his ministry got the $500 million loan it requires for the upgrade.
As of March last year, the former Minister was appealing to the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Chun Jian Chun, to help Nigeria fast-track the evaluation and approval of the $500 million loan for the execution of three major projects– the digitization of the NTA, the construction of a headquarters complex and transmission network for Integrated Television Services, a Federal Government-owned signal distributor that is a major component of the country’s Digital Switch Over, and the construction of an ultra-modern Media City in Ikorodu.
There was, however, no report of the loan being granted until the end of the administration in May this year.