Nigeria has been projected to be the largest free digital television platform globally with estimated 30 million TV households by the completion of analogue broadcasting switch off in June 2017.
The Deputy Chairman of Cable Channels Nigeria Ltd., Mr Mohammadu Bawa, disclosed this at a gala night attended by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Jos on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports CCNL is the official Nigeria contents aggregator for the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) which the country is expected to completely switch on to by the June 2017.
Bawa said that compared to the UK which had 10 million consumers, Australia with 13 million and New Zealand with three million, Nigeria would be in the lead with its 30 million free TV household by 2017.
He said the free TV broadcast platform would offer home entertainment and educative channels to viewer through the DTT and Digital Satellite (DSAT) which would come on board at a later date.
“The responsibilities of the free TV included platform and contents management, consumer, audience measurement, signal contribution, branding and promotion and other services”.
In addition to the free to air channels, he said the DSO would help in the development of more movie and music channels.
Bawa said there would be electronic programming guide to viewers on what were available for viewing and other public information.
“The free TV will comprise of existing national content and local free to air channels, selected thematic channels and selected international free to air channels” he said.
He said the Federal Government through the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had assigned the distribution of Free-Top Boxes to CCNL.
Free-top box is the receiver to be placed on the television box to convert analogue transmission to digital.
Bawa said the boxes which ought to cost about N10,000 had been subsidized by government to cost N1,500 and it would be produced locally.
He assured effective and efficient circulation of the boxes in the entire DSO region to secure the widest possible reach with value for consumers.
The Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Alheri Saidu, said the journey to digital broadcasting started in 2006 with the target to conclude the process in 2012.
Saidu said the switch over failed twice – 2012 and 2015 – before the deadline of June 2017 was given.
“It took the efforts of the new administration to pull the string to start the process of moving the country to digital television broadcasting”.
“What we are witnessing today is the commissioning of Free TV, the vehicle to which we will be watching a new regime of digital broadcasting in the country,” Saidu said.
The Plateau Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mohammed Ahmed, thanked the Federal Government “for singling out Plateau from many capable states to launch DSO”.
He said with the dossier of being the state where the colour TV started in Nigeria, Plateau was setting another record on DSO.
The minister commissioned the Free TV as a brand, stressing that Digital Switch Over would democratize information in the country.