The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting is a new dawn that will revolutionize television broadcasting in the entire West African sub-region.
Alhaji Mohammed stated this in Abuja on Wednesday while addressing journalists on the roll-out of the pilot phase of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Jos, Plateau State, on Saturday.
He said that with this development, television broadcasting will no longer be the same.
“As I said earlier, the Digital Switch Over (DSO) roll-out last Saturday was nothing short of a revolution in broadcasting. The DSO is an evolving media landscape that affects us all and how we receive, watch, monetize and develop television and production going forward. Therefore, what happened in Jos at the weekend is momentous, the dawn of a new era for Government, TV Channels, Producers, Advertisers and, most importantly, the Nigerian TV customer,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He underscored the political will mustered by the Buhari Administration to record such a feat, saying before the advent of this government, the nation had missed the transition deadline twice, thereby eroding the confidence of investors and the public in the Digital Switch Over (DSO).
“When we came in about six months ago, a cloud of uncertainty and confusion hung over Nigeria’s digital transition. There were no Set–Top Boxes, without which the transition could not be kick-started; there was no established Signal Distributor on ground. There were no software and security devices for protection of the boxes. The banks had cancelled the Letters of Credit that were granted for the importation of Set-Top Boxes and no one could say for sure if indeed we will meet the third deadline of June 2017 to fully switch on digital broadcasting and switched off analogue broadcasting.
“But we swung into action, setting up an inter-ministerial task force to drive the process, in a show of political will. After a series of meetings and concrete actions to resolve knotty issues, investor and stakeholder confidence was restored and we were firmly set on the path that led to last Saturday’s roll-out,” the Minister said.
While enumerating the benefits of digital broadcasting, Alhaji Mohammed said 15 channels with high-resolution pictures and hi fidelity sound were unveiled at the initial stage and that after the full transition to digital, over 30 TV channels will be watched by over 30 million viewers, making Nigeria one of the biggest markets for free to air TV in the world.
The Minister said unlike the analogue broadcasting, the digital broadcasting technology is not limited to the delivery of television programmes only but there are value added and interactive services such as Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), television shopping, weather forecasts, electronic newspapers etc which can also be accessed on the television set by the viewer, ushering in a new television viewing experience.
In addition, he disclosed that movie and music producers will now have a unique opportunity to release their works directly to TV households, which will be a big blow to those who pirate their works.
Alhaji Mohammed also spoke on the economic gains of the Digital Switch Over (DSO), saying: “In terms of the economy, all licensed Set-Top Box manufacturers have been mandated to establish manufacturing companies in Nigeria to produce the boxes locally, after importing the first set of boxes. This will create massive employment and also ensure the transfer of technology to our people. The transition will also be a catalyst for retailers and installers to emerge all over the country, with a massive impact on the local economy”.
The Minister therefore challenged broadcasters in the country to invest in developing compelling content to attract viewers and advertisers.