Nigeria is to gain about $1 billion annually from new opportunities and possibilities to be unlocked in the economy with the ongoing Digital Switch Over from analogue to digital broadcasting, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture has said.
The Minister of Information and Culture dropped the hint this week while delivering his keynote at the 2016 edition of AFRICAST in Abuja.
“The broadcasting industry and digital economy will grow by $1 billion per annum through increases in advertising, Nollywood income and value added services”, the Minister says.
”It will offer uncountable opportunities for jobs especially for young Nigerians who form the majority of the demographics in the broadcast industry and other ancillary industries.”
According to the Minister, “the benefits are multifaceted and very far-reaching – in the areas of economics, politics, education, entertainment, science and technology and several other ways. Many have said that the impact of digitization on television will be revolutionary and I cannot agree less. With digitization, the TV industry in Nigeria will be able to raise over one billion dollars in one year. Also, digitization will increase the number of the current 450 TV stations in Nigeria.”
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]According to the Minister, “the benefits are multifaceted and very far-reaching – in the areas of economics, politics, education, entertainment, science and technology and several other ways. Many have said that the impact of digitization on television will be revolutionary and I cannot agree less. With digitization, the TV industry in Nigeria will be able to raise over one billion dollars in one year. Also, digitization will increase the number of the current 450 TV stations in Nigeria.”[/quote]“Governments – Federal, State and local – will have an information outlet to every home through the interactive news and information service. Nollywood will have a safe and profitable distribution channel direct to 24 million TV homes through the Set-Top Boxes with no piracy risk. This will generate $250m per annum of extra income for Nollywood”, he says.
Reiterating other benefits of the DSO, the Minister says “Nigerian viewers will get a great free TV service with up to 30 channels laden with sports, news, documentaries and other programme types for only N1500. Viewers should also be able to receive all pay TV content through one Set Top Box, if they so desire.”
He says that “the prevention of STB imports will enable Nigerian STB manufacturers to build a thriving industry. The Nigerian Government can potentially raise a digital dividend of $1 billion from the sale of spectrum, thereby ensuring that the whole DSO program is self-funding.”
Speaking on the progress made so far on the DSO, the Minister said the Federal Government has shown commitment to meeting the new DSO deadline of June 2017 for the whole country, and has authorised the local manufacturing of Set-Top-Boxes who have already gone into action to ensure the project is completed on schedule.
“A total of thirteen (13) local Set-Top-Box manufacturers have been authorized by the Commission to manufacture the STBs for the Digital Switch over in Nigeria. The Set-Top-Box manufacturing companies are already providing jobs for young Nigerians and offering opportunity for technical and engineering skills acquisition. Only last week, I visited one of the manufacturing plants at Idu in Abuja and the plant already has a number of young Nigerians working there,” he said.
“In order to ensure that the signals of various channel owners are compressed into multiplexes and well packaged before transmission to consumers, and to protect the boxes from hacking and piracy, the Federal Government engaged the middleware operator Inview Nigeria limited. Another indigenous company, Cable Channels Nigeria Limited (CCNL), is managing the marketing and aggregation of the channels on behalf of the content owners and the signal distributors,” he said.
Speaking further, he said: “In line with the DSO White Paper, which makes a provision for the reservation of a licence for an independent signal distribution operator to be created out of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), a company known as Independent Television Services (ITS) Limited has been created.”
The Minister says the AFRICAST event is coming against the background of ”our efforts to transit from analogue to digital broadcasting, as it has a theme that suits the current project at hand.”
The event with theme, “Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting: Financing Quality Content” provides a platform for stakeholders in Africa’s broadcasting scene to converge and exchange ideas on content creation and explore the possibilities offered by the new and emerging technology.
”This is why technology and broadcast content have remained critical issues at the various editions of Africast”, Mohammed says.
“The Digitization of the technology of broadcasting is rapidly changing broadcasting and offering fresh opportunities – Broadcasters are embracing platforms for diverse content and now require media tools with continuous access to content throughout their business. Content producers are delivering their program content to ever more devices.
“The evolution of new broadcast platforms is threatening traditional broadcast platforms and channels. The reality though is that the motivation apparently is that as broadcasters engage new platforms, the market opportunities are increasing, providing new revenue streams,” the Minister adds.
According to the Minister, “the Federal government’s idea of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is one in which there is free digital TV service called FreeTV – based on Freeview rather than requiring pay TV subscriptions. Therefore, the government is providing support to ensure that the FreeTV Set–Top-Boxes, also called decoders, are affordable at a retail price of N1,500 ($7.50).”
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]According to the Minister, “the Federal government’s idea of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is one in which there is free digital TV service called FreeTV – based on Freeview rather than requiring pay TV subscriptions. Therefore, the government is providing support to ensure that the FreeTV Set–Top-Boxes, also called decoders, are affordable at a retail price of N1,500 ($7.50).”[/quote]Relating the success of the pilot roll out of the DSO in Jos on the 30th of April 2016, he said: “Today, Jos residents who benefited from the pilot scheme enjoy over 15 free television channels, covering news, sports, business, music, etc. The Free Television services also come with interactive capability and government information portal. This is very significant in this era of information and knowledge, where the right of every citizen to information, access to pluralism of media choices and diversity of content cannot be over-emphasized.”
Government also consciously provided about 200,000 free STBs for the pilot scheme, while the price of the box was fixed at N1,500 each, in what the Minister says was done to encourage social inclusiveness.
With the successful take-off of the pilot scheme, the Federal Government has now concluded plans to roll out in Abuja before the end of this year, he says.
To achieve the successful switch over in Abuja, the Minister said Pinnacle Communications, an indigenous Broadcast manufacturing company, has been given the task to provide transmission service for over 30 channels that will be available to viewers in Abuja.
”From Abuja, it is our expectation that the roll-out to other states in Nigeria will be done in phases, until we are able to achieve the set date of June 2017.”
The Minister however advised that “regulators of broadcasting in Africa must begin to envisage and appropriate the larger implications of the roll out of these platforms.
According to him, “Africa must ensure that our media continues to serve its peoples in terms of security, economic well-being and technological advancement. We need to be literate in the emerging technological platforms and understand them before we can apply them.
“Here in Nigeria, broadcasting was deregulated in 1992 to allow private initiative in the industry, and this has led to a massive growth in the broadcast industry. The need for more content, especially, and technical equipment has been on the increase.”