By Dipo Olowookere
The Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Broadcasting is set to create a N100 billion Naira per annum FreeTV distribution network for Nollywood, among a number of positive spin-offs, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, disclosed on Thursday.
Speaking at the launch of the DSO in Abuja, the Minister also listed job creation, 30 free digital channels, free and easy access to Government and Public information through a touch of the remote control, current affairs and news available through the middleware on the boxes and a world class Electronic Programme Guide that will make television viewing an unbeatable experience
“We have watched our beloved Nollywood move from VHS tapes to VCD to DVD, and whereas the whole world has moved to digital consumption of content with its attendant benefits and democratisation of distribution, we have been constrained by limited penetration of Internet in our homes.
“With the middleware in our Set-top boxes/Receiving equipment, homes will be able to buy and watch the latest Nollywood movies without the need for Internet. Imagine a film released on Monday morning being immediately available to 24 million plus households at the touch of a button,” he said
In his speech entitled ‘The Best of Television For All Nigerians,’ Mr Mohammed said the local manufacture of set-top boxes, which has already begun, is already extending to local Smart TV and Tablet manufacturing, thus creating jobs.
“With our strong consumer base, we can quickly become the supplier of these equipment to the whole of West Africa. As we speak, jobs are already being created as we engage Engineers, Technicians, Retailers, Distributors and Marketers, among others,” he said.
The Minister said the Electronic Program Guide will also be a platform for Application (App) developers to create products that will make life easier for the home consumers, thereby creating and promoting an industry of developers that will operate in both the Television and Telecoms industries.
In addition, he said, the increase in Free-To- Air channels and the separation of transmission from content aggregation will spur an increase in TV production activities, as the channels will now be able to focus on their TV shows and harness the variety of human and creative skills to compete to become the most watched channel.
Mr Mohammed said the DSO would also help to grow the TV advertising market by $400 million per annum through audience measurement, adding: “Our digital environment will give equal opportunity to everyone to be rewarded for investment in creativity, and that is what the regime of forensic Audience Measurement, which Digitisation offers, will afford. If it is your programme people are watching, you will be the recipient of higher revenues because the advertisers will run to you.”
He reiterated the government’s unwavering commitment to meeting the deadline of June 2017 for the analogue to digital switch over in Nigeria and other West African countries, as set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
The Minister commended Pinnacle Communications, the signal distributor for the Abuja DSO, for its massive investment that heralded the success of the launch, as well as the National Broadcasting Commission, Digiteam, content aggregators CCNL, software provider Inview, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria and RATTAWU.
The Pilot Scheme of the DSO was launched in Jos, Plateau State, on 30 April 2016, after two previous failures – in 2012 and 2015.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, commissioned the Abuja DSO at the offices of Pinnacle Communications Ltd.
The President said the Federal Government is ”irreversibly committed” to meeting the June 2017 deadline for the switch over and congratulated the Minister of Information, the Director General of NBC, Pinnacle Communications and Set-top box manufacturers SMK ”for a world class performance on this switch over”.
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