Digitization has improved the quality of our services
Engr. Brason Ahmed Ben, is the General Manager of the Taraba State Television Corporation. In this interview with Worldview’s Williams Ayooso, he spoke on the impact of digitization and the efforts that Gov. Darius Ishaku is making towards growing the corporation.
There was so much talk about digitization of state owned electronic media outfits, what is digitization as it affects these outfits?
The process of digitization started a long time ago. The first effort towards digitization in the state was made by the former Governor, the Late Pharmacist Danbaba Suntai, when he constituted a technical committee for the digitization and digital switch over. I was a member of the committee and we went round the country to look at the efforts made by major stakeholders or TV stations. On coming back, we prepared a report. Unfortunately; we were yet to formally present the report when he was involved in an air accident that later took his life. After that, no effort was made until the coming of the present Governor, His Excellency Architect Darius Dickson Ishaku. Previous governments did made their efforts since the establishment of the Television Station in1992. We started with analogue and then we moved to semi-digital solid stage. Since that time, until now, the process has never reached the end. We will do it and reach a certain stage, then there would be contractual problems and it will be abandoned.
But thank God, with the coming of this administration, the Governor set in motion a mechanism whereby there was a bid and a contract for the supply of digital equipment, with a digital ready Transmitter was awarded and executed. As we talk now, we are ready for the digital switch-over. All the necessary things that are required to move the station from analogue to switch over are on ground. We are also on the Nigerian Communications Satellite Platform. We are on digital Terrestrial broadcast Platform, the one with Startimes. By Digital Terrestrial platform, we are ready for the Digital Switch-Over. This achievement is courtesy of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku.
Looking at the quality of your transmission, one would conclude that the digitization process has been completed, but you are still talking about digital switch-over. Can you enlighten us more on the process?
Digitization is the first stage. Digitization is supposed to be made by every station, which we have done, but you know; you need to upgrade and modify your system. Even though you have digitized, but technology moves on. It is always changing, and there is wear and tear. When you talk about digital switch-over, it is done by the National Broadcasting Commission, because they have stations like Pinnacle and Startimes, that were given licences for networking the country. As it is, they are supposed to have their transmitters all over the country. All we need do is to get our signals from the studio and our studio signal should get to the network stations, they are the ones to transmit our signals round the country. Our production and studio are digitized, but for the switch-over, you are not supposed to asses our signals directly unless with a decoder. But people are now using antenna to get startimes in Jalingo, by using an Area pointing towards the direction of the Startimes antenna, that is the Terrestrial transmission Digital, TTD
By switch-over, we switch over off our transmitters. All we do now is to have our signals and we get any means to get it to the DTT platform. This process was started in plateau, digital to switch over and then they moved to Kano, and to either Rivers state or so. The process is not moving smoothly. As I speak now, we have invitation to produce another timetable for the digital switchover. But we are digital ready.
This digitization, to what extent has it impacted on the services and operations of your corporation?
Digitization, as you know, is mostly computer based and anything computer, you know, is faster. The storage, the quality of everything becomes perfect. If you watch our transmission now, you will discover that the quality is better than when we were operating an analogue system. The digitization has helped greatly in improving our signal and our services.
What can you say is the Taraba Television Corporation of your dream?
We have made a lot of progress. This progress comes with its attendant demands. At present, we are on satellite. On satellite, we are on 24 hours service. So I want a situation whereby I have additional staff. That is one of my major expectations. If I have adequate staff, even on the Terrestrial level, I can go 24 hours. I’m 24 hours on the satellite. Now, it is only 17 hours on the Terrestrial service. Aside from this, there are still things that I feel I should do on the quality of signals. From my background of engineering, there is no perfection. You always improve on what you have achieved, that is what is steering my spirit for excellence. We look at big stations like CNN, like Aljazeera. When I watch the operations of the big stations, I always wish that we could be like them. And that is my dream for Taraba Television corporation WV