FG Says Digital Switchover Deadline Is Achievable.

The Federal Government has asked Nigerians not to rule out the possibility of achieving the digital broadcast switchover deadline of June 2017 set by the International Telecommunications Union.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, made the call on Thursday at a public hearing of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee set up to investigate the process of the planned digital switchover in Nigeria.

He stressed the need to review the business model inherited from the previous administration before the set deadline.

“We know it’s very ambitious but if you aim for the sky, you might at least get the ceiling.

“We don’t want to say June 2017 is unachievable, we’ll relax. But if we are able to roll out another six by May, then we know where we are,” the minister said.

The Chairman of the House Ad-hoc Committee, Representative Sunday Katung, also emphasised the importance of the digital switchover.

Deadline Implication

However, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and CEO, Channels Media Group, Mr John Momoh, stressed the need to place the interest of stakeholders and that of the country first.

Mr Momoh advised that Nigeria should work towards ensuring that a good switchover transition was achieved rather than emphasising deadlines.

“Again, I say that we shouldn’t be looking at deadlines. I think we should just work towards making sure that we have a very good switchover.

“When we set a deadline, we put ourselves under pressure.

“The ministry is working very well with the border states to make sure that there is no confusion in terms of interference.

“We should just be focused and see how can we transit to digital, rather than emphasise deadlines.

“Deadlines will put us in trouble,” the BON Chairman warned.

Other issues discussed at the gathering include funding and the need to have a better business model backed by a good legal framework to accommodate the transition process.

Nigeria ready for 2017 deadline on digital switchover, says Buhari.

President Muhammadu Buhari has said his government is irreversibly committed to meeting the June 2017 deadline for digital switchover (DSO) from analogue.

He therefore appealed to states and local governments to be actively involved in the project because of the obvious advantage to Nigerians.Buhari, who said this while commissioning the Abuja digital switch over from analogue to digital television broadcasting yesterday, stated that the DSO would liberalise access and increase the versatility of media information. He added that interactive programming, two-way data exchanges, mobile reception of video, Internet and multimedia data will open up.

The president maintained that the local industry was already experiencing a boost from the new vista in digital economy, with several indigenous companies now manufacturing set-top-boxes. He disclosed that many of the set-top-boxes for the Abuja switchover were produced in Nigeria.

According to him, Nigerian artistes and entrepreneurs in music, entertainment and filmmaking would become important pillars in the nation’s diversification plans.

Buhari said, “The significance of this event cannot be lost on the world as the digital switchover becomes a reality in the capital city of Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation. The opportunities that this will provide are only limited by the imagination. Advertising, formal education, sales and marketing are obvious low hanging fruits. We are right to say that we stand at the threshold of exciting times for job creation, entertainment and in general, local and international commerce.”

Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the president said that the successful launch of the pilot scheme in Jos in April had clearly demonstrated the gains of DSO, as viewers in the pilot were able to enjoy 15 free channels covering news, sports, music and business.

Explaining that strong partnership with the private sector was a defining strategy of Nigeria’s economic plan, Buhari said, “I am also pleased to state that the signal distributor for the Abuja switchover, Pinnacle Communications is a wholly-owned Nigerian firm.”

Chairman of DigiTeam Nigeria, Edward Amana said Nigeria requires over 30 million set top boxes for the digital transition.He stated that Nigeria’s failure to meet the previous International Telecommunication Union (ITU) deadlines for the DSO was due to lack of commitment from past governments.

Nigeria launches digital broadcasting in Abuja; residents to get 30 free TV channels.

The federal government on Thursday launched the Abuja phase of the Digital Switch Over (DSO), signalling the commencement of the full roll-out of digital broadcasting across the federal capital city.

After several years of unsuccessful move by past administrations to switch over from analogue to digital broadcasting, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has at last edged the country into the league of digital world.

Nigeria transited from analogue to digital television viewing on April 30, 2016 in Jos, the Plateau State capital, when it launched the pilot phase of the Federal Government’s digital transmission project that kick started the digitization process in Nigeria.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) had given Nigeria up to June, 2017 as deadline to switch from analogue broadcasting to digital across the country.

Speaking at the DSO launch held at Mpape hills, Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said although the DSO would not take place in one fell swoop across the country, the federal government remains resolute in its commitment to meeting the 2017 deadline for the DSO.

“Let me use this opportunity to reiterate the government’s unwavering commitment to meeting the set deadline of June 2017 for the analogue to digital switch over here in Nigeria. The DSO train that took off in Jos has now arrived in Abuja, from where it is set to move to other parts of the country unhindered.”

Mr. Mohammed, who described the launch as revolutionary in the Nigerian broadcasting ecosystem, said 30 free channels would be available for Abuja residents upon the switch over while over 450,000 Set-Top Boxes (decoders) have been provided for the commencement.

“Our objective is not just to move Nigerians from analogue to digital in a simple technical sense, but to ensure a total overhaul of the whole TV watching experience and the economy around it”, Mohammed said.

The minister said that apart from the 30 free digital channels, the switch over will enable free and easy access to government and public information through a touch of the remote control.

Mr. Mohammed expressed confidence that through technical, production and manufacturing opportunities that comes with the switch, tens of thousands of jobs will be created.

“As we speak, jobs are already being created as we engage engineers, technicians, retailers, distributors and marketers, among others,” he said.

Mr. Mohammed said the DSO will grow the TV advertising market by $400 million per annum through audience measurement as well as create a N100 billion per annum free TV distribution network for Nollywood.

“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 Stb’s/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.”

Digitization is the process of converting analogue signals or information from any format into digital forms that can be understood by computer systems or electronic devices.

The term is used when converting information like text, images or voices and sounds into binary codes. Digitized information is easier to store, access and transmit and digitization is used by a number of consumer electronic devices.

The switchover to Digital Terrestrial Television, DTT, was a necessity for Nigeria as a signatory to the International Broadcast Union Agreement tagged: “Geneva 2006” which mandated all countries to switchover to avoid signal interference from other countries.