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FG Eyes June 2017 Broadcast Digitization Deadline

TV Digital Switch

By Dipo Olowookere

Federal Government has expressed its determination to meet the June 2017 deadline for the switch over to digital broadcasting from analogue.

Nigeria had in the past failed to beat the deadlines set for the transition due to some constraints.

But the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has promised that the country would do all the best possible to meet up this time around.

He said at a programme on Tuesday in Abuja that the FG’s renewed efforts were borne out of the resultant benefits of such migration.

“The digitization of broadcasting offers Nigeria a lot of opportunities. 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 1 billion dollars in one year. Also, digitization will increase the number of the current 450 TV stations in Nigeria,” Mr Mohammed said while declaring open the 2016 AFRICAST in Abuja.

The Minister further explained at the occasion themed ‘Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting: Financing Quality Content’ that the Federal Government’s idea of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) was one in which there is free digital TV service called FreeTV – based on Freeview rather than requiring pay TV subscriptions and that the government is providing support to ensure that the FreeTV Set-Top-Boxes, also called decoders, were affordable at a retail price of N1,500.

According to him, with the Digital Switch Over, Nollywood will have a safe and profitable distribution channel direct to 24 million TV homes through the Set-Top Boxes with no piracy risk, which will generate $250m per annum of extra income for Nollywood.

He also said the digitization of the technology of broadcasting, which brought about a paradigm shift in the industry, requires broadcasters to be dynamic, embrace various platforms for diverse content and adapt to new tools with continuous access to content throughout their business.

“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,” he said.

Mr Mohammed therefore appealed to regulators of broadcasting in Africa to begin to envisage and appropriate the larger implications of the emergence of multiple platforms by ensuring that the media continues to serve its peoples in terms of security, economic well-being and technological advancement.

AFRICAST, which was introduced in 1996 by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the broadcast regulator in Nigeria, is the platform on which broadcast issues as they relate to Africa are discussed every two years by professionals, academics and policy makers.

It is also a platform for manufacturers of broadcast equipment and publishers of content who are targeting the emerging African market.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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