The “Broadcast And Digital Media Convention – Nigeria,” which aims to engage broadcasters and media practitioners on the realities and structures of a new digital ecosystem, is just a few days away. Mr Guy Murray-Bruce, President of Silverbird Communications Limited, was interviewed by Broadcast Media Africa ahead of the industry summit, scheduled to take place at JohnWood Hotel By Bolton in Abuja – Nigeria, on Tuesday, March 22 and Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
The summit will explore Nigeria’s transition to a digital ecosystem as more parts of the country become fully digital, and the numerous concerns that have arisen that must now be understood and addressed.
According to Mr Murray-Bruce, the transition from analogue broadcasting to full digital broadcasting is a big deal, and as significant players in both TV and radio, we owe ourselves the duty of fully understanding the situation.
He went on to say that the transition will require both state-owned broadcasters and regulators to work together for the benefit of the country. Rather than the present situation where license fees seem to be the regulators’ focus, they should emulate regulators in other sectors like the aviation industry who pressured the government to create a pool of low-interest loans for airlines.
To find out more about Mr Guy Murray-Bruce’s thoughts on Nigeria’s digital transformation, read the following excerpt:
BMA: What influenced your decision to agree to participate in the Industry Summit on “Broadcast And Digital Media Summit – Nigeria”?
Guy Murray-Bruce: As one of the major players in the broadcast workplace industry, it would have been irresponsible of us not to participate in such an important event. The transition from analogue broadcasting to full digital broadcasting is a big deal, and as significant players in both TV and radio, we owe ourselves the duty of fully understanding the situation.
BMA: How would you describe the current transformation that is taking place in the broadcasting industry, especially in relation to digital terrestrial broadcasting, reliable infrastructure and the accessibility of financing and funding? How can practitioners take advantage?
Guy Murray-Bruce: Globally, digital terrestrial broadcasting has been around for a long time. If anything, Nigeria is embracing it a bit late in the day as analogue broadcasting is almost going extinct. Ideally, the authorities should have factored in the cost of the transition to broadcasters who will have to retool and even ramp up production values of their content in an environment of double-digit hostile interests that Nigerian banks demand. This may be a major reason why the transition has been somewhat bumpy. However, when affected, the transition will see the proliferation of niche content channels, which will offer viewers the advantage of choice.
BMA: What is the biggest industry challenge faced at the moment in relation to the digital switchover, funding, and having to operate in an accelerated multiscreen and multi-platform ecosystem?
Guy Murray-Bruce: The challenges are manifold, and none can be said to be greater than the other. However. I’ll say the exposure of the Nigerian audience to foreign content streaming services poses a unique challenge to us as broadcasters. Given the astronomical cost of funds, the Nigerian audience has now acquired a taste for high-end content that local broadcasters are not equipped to replicate. This is perhaps the major hurdle confronting us at the moment, but we at Silverbird are bracing up to it and promise to bridge the production quality gap. However, a combo of incentives by way of duty waiver for the importation of broadcast equipment and tax rebates will have to be offered by the government.
BMA: In your opinion, what do you think can be done to improve the dynamics of a fully-digital broadcasting ecosystem, taking into account the relationship between the public and private sector?
Guy Murray-Bruce: There is no gainsaying that the private sector has been primarily responsible for the growth of the broadcast sector in recent years. The era of state-owned broadcasters’ dominance is over. We now have a sometimes overbearing influence of state regulators who prioritised revenue generation for the state over being growth catalysers for the industry. As we usher in the digital era, both parties should work in sync to benefit the Nigerian people. Rather than this present situation where license fees seem to be the regulators’ focus, they should emulate regulators in other sectors like the aviation industry who pressured the government to create a pool of low-interest loans for airlines.
BMA: Could you please tell us what you hope fellow participants will take away from this industry event?
Guy Murray-Bruce: Our collective takeaway should be a better understanding of the government’s approach to the switch over as this will help direct our input to the process as the players. It is hoped that both sides, and by that, I mean key stakeholders in the private and public sectors, will come together to benefit the Nigerian audience who deserve the best at all times.