Confusion over MultiChoice/StarTimes in Nigeria

South African pay-TV giant MultiChoice has been given notice that their transmissions over and within Nigeria must cease next year. The notification also includes StarTimes Group, which is backed by Nigeria’s public broadcaster. All of the MultiChoice-related services are directly affected including DStv and its digital terrestrial service GOTV.

The notification has come from Nigeria’s Federal Government which says that a 2014 licence issued by the country’s National Broadcasting Corporation will not be renewed because “it is not in line with the [nation’s] Digital switch-over White Paper.

Modibo Ishaq Kawu, director general, National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), is quoted locally as saying recently that all paid DTT operators including DSTV, GOTV and Star Times will be shut down by June 2019 unless they begin discussions with the two signal distributors, ITS and Pinnacle.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on February 8th, and quoted by Nigeria’s Today NG news-site, Kawu said that in preparation for full implementation of switch over from analogue to digital signals, all operators in the sector including signal distributors, content aggregators and Set Top Box manufacturers ought to be on the same page now, to help in delivering a seamless Digital Switch Over.

The major problem is that Nigeria wants to separate content providers and signal distributors. “This is because, in line with the Government White Paper on the Transition from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting, after June 2019, these pay DTT operators would no longer be licensed to operate as both content providers and signal distributors,” stated Kawu.

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