By Chinenye Anuforo
The Federal Government has officially launched the Digital Switch-Over (DSO) in Lagos State as the State went live on digital television Thursday.
This is even as Federal Government announced that with the launch in Lagos, analogue broadcasting would be switched off in the state the next six months.
Speaking during the launch event in Lagos yesterday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed said the event marks the beginning of the second phase of the DSO rollout.
He said though it took the digital television train over three years to
arrive in Lagos State, from its last stop in Osun State, the train was now ready to move faster. “The DSO train has now changed from narrow gauge to standard gauge, meaning it will move faster to cover 13 states across the country this year alone in the second phase of the
DSO rollout, which begins today”, the Minister said.
He acknowledged the power and the extensive reach of modern broadcasting, which makes it a veritable tool for national development.
The Minister said, “The democratization of digital television in Nigeria, which is what DSO is about, fits into the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari for a
digital economy in the country. Mr. President’s vision is that of national technological development driven by Nigeria’s very vibrant and creative young people; who are among the most dynamic in Africa and indeed the world.”
He stated that the switch-on of Lagos is unique and epochal, because it marks the first time that the DSO project would be beaming 60 choice channels to television households.
“This is not by accident. Lagos is Nigeria’s creative hub, hence it is important to harness the creative talents that abound in the state through this project. Also, the DSO provides us with a great platform to key into the Lagos Smart City Project, which seeks to use technology to enhance service delivery in all spheres of life. The DSO is not just about high fidelity sound and picture, it is about creating jobs, especially for our teeming youth, stimulating local content and empowering channel owners.”
While the DSO television platform, branded as FreeTV, offers its viewers about 60 digital channels, including sports, music, movies, and news, it also provides Value Added Services, such as: Enforcement & Collection of TV Licenses, Premium PayTV channels, Push Video on Demand, Information Services and Audience Measurement.
Lai said the project will enhance the Lagos Smart City Project while revolutionizing television viewing for the more than 5 million TV households in the state.
“In addition, a large number of the 1 million jobs to be created by the DSO project in the next three years will come from Lagos. Since FreeTV helps to provide Value Added Services, the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 LCDAs in Lagos State will be supported in the collection of Television & Radio Licenses from residents. With FreeTV’s push system for information services, the FreeTV platform can be used to broadcast information on Lagos State activities to all viewers. It will also help Advertisers in Lagos to target which programmes and channels are being watched by the audience, while Lagosians can also cash in on the Push Video-on-Demand capability of the FreeTV platform to access premium blockbuster Nollywood movies from the comfort of their homes.”
He said the Ministry have over one million Set-Top-Boxes ready. “The good news is that the Set-Top-Boxes are locally manufactured, hence more boxes are getting set to be released by the factories located across the country adding that he is optimistic that by December 7, 2022, the Ministry will complete the switch-off of analogue broadcasting on the terrestrial television platform in Nigeria.
He noted that from Lagos, the DSO train heads to Kano State on June 3rd; Rivers on July 8th; Yobe on July 15th; Gombe on August 12th; Imo on August 24th; Akwa Ibom on August 31st; Oyo on September 9th; Jigawa on September 23rd; Ebonyi on October 17th; Katsina on October 21st; Anambra on November 4th and Delta on November 18th.
“This may look like a daunting task. Indeed, it is. But the fact that we are here in Lagos today is a testimony to our resilience and determination to ensure the success of the transition from analogue to digital television across the country”, the Minister said.
Also speaking, Ag. Director-General, NBC, Armstrong Idachaba in his welcome address said the Digitization of broadcasting brings a whole gamut of opportunities for Nigerians. “It is perhaps without doubt the fastest and safest way to leap frog those at the lower rung up the digital divide.
With this roll out in Lagos, a projected 5 million Lagosians are instantly going to access digital television services not only for broadcasting but with converged opportunities to Telecom and other ancilliary services. Jobs will be created for creatives and Engineers and technicians, small scale business activities are going to be stimulated around the proposition, sale of boxes, installations, content production and the like.”
Idachaba said the greatest win of the Lagos launch is that broadcasters are owning the process. “They are excited and see the success of the Digital switchover as theirs.
The Digital switchon we are activating here in Lagos today means that from today with just a set top box Lagosians can now enjoy over 30 digital television services, subscription free. Since the commencement of the DSO implementation in 2015 we have also licensed over 140 Digital Terrestrial Television Channels cutting across national, regional and local channels. We expect therefore that Lagos will quickly scale up to some 60 channels, within the next few weeks.”
Babajide Sanwo-Olu on his own said Lagos is committed to the project for many reasons.
First, it would enhance job creation and content development.
Second, it would be of immense benefits to the residents.
Third, it would empower many of our youths, especially those in the entertainment and tourism industry.
Furthermore, it will also provide opportunity for the government to use the content to inform and engage the citizens as well as bring governance closer to the people.
He however, urged the Ministerial Taskforce on the DSO to make the FreeTV box and after sale support easily accessible adding that he is convinced that making the FreeTV Set Top Box a one-off payment with an annual renewal will provide opportunity for millions of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay the subscription fees being charged by the PayTV platforms to enjoy the benefit of digital television. ” This is real the definition of bridging the digital divide”, he said.