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Best of television for all – Lai Mohammed during digital switch over

Being text of the Speech by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at the Abuja Launch of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Broadcasting on Thursday, 22 Dec. 2016

PROTOCOL

I welcome you all to this Abuja launch of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) of our Television in Nigeria. This is following up on the successful launch of the DSO in Jos earlier this year. We are now going into full gear to launch across the rest of the country and to commence switch off.

2. I have continued to reiterate, and the high quality of the service that Pinnacle, our signal distributor, has put up here goes to confirm, that our objective is not just to move customers and 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. 

3. The core principles of Democracy are equality, common participation, total access to information for all citizens, economic empowerment of all participants in the industries and a level playing feed for Nigerian companies and entrepreneurs to build viable businesses. By these, we are expecting to help diversify our economy by properly exploiting our great talent and creative human and natural resources, which we strongly believe are second to none in Africa. 

4. There are a number of initiatives that we are focusing on in order to achieve a credible and effective development of our TV and Production industries, and to successfully develop the digital economy. I will mention a few here:

The Consumer Proposition that is all encompassing which most Nigerians have never had access to – 30 free digital channels

Free and easy access to Government and Public information through a touch of the remote control.

Current Affairs and News available through the middleware on the boxes.

A world class Electronic Program Guide that will make Television viewing an unbeatable experience

Creating tens of thousands of jobs through Technical, Production and Manufacturing opportunities

Set-Top Box assembling and ultimately manufacturing is an irreversible mandate by the government to the industry. We expect this to extend very quickly to local Smart TV and Tablet manufacturing. With our strong consumer base, we can quickly become the supplier of these equipment to the whole of West Africa. As we speak, jobs are already being created as we engage Engineers, Technicians, Retailers, Distributors and Marketers, among others.

The Electronic Program Guide will also be a platform for Application (App) developers to create products that will make life easier for the home consumers, thereby creating and promoting an industry of developers that will operate in both the Television and Telecoms industries. I am waiting for the app that will teach that child in Damaturu any language of their choice, through visual presentation at the touch of a button and without Internet.

The increase in Free-To-Air channels and the separation of transmission from content aggregation will spur an increase in TV production activities, as the Channels will now be able to focus on their TV shows and harness the variety of human and creative skills to compete to become the most watched channel.

Growing the TV advertising market by $400 million pa through audience measurement.

iv) My functions as the Minister of Information and Culture gives me the humble privilege of looking at the TV, the Movie, the Music and the Advertising industries from an aerial perspective. While studying where these industries currently stand and looking at the potential benefits of the new digital landscape for all of them, I see the need to grow the advertising industry, since that is the oil needed to make these ‘Free TV’ environment thrive and create rewards for the producers and great content for the consumer. 

Our digital environment will give equal opportunity to everyone to be rewarded for investment in creativity, and that is what the regime of forensic Audience Measurement, which Digitisation offers, will afford. If it is your program people are watching, you will be the recipient of higher revenues because the advertisers will run to you.

Creating access to all content by all platforms

We are going to forbid all forms of monopoly so that all Nigerians can get access to all types of content without having to expend money on multiple devices. With the Set-top box you are getting your Free-to-Air channels, you must be allowed to pay for and buy any and every channel allowed to be broadcast in the country. Media pluralism is a cornerstone of democracy and this fact should be reflected in the plurality of independent and autonomous media and in diversity of media content accessible to all.

Creating a 100 Billion Naira per annum FreeTV 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.

5. 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.

6. I will close by thanking all the people who have worked very hard and invested enormous resources of time, travel and money and with lots of sacrifices in order to make this launch a success.

7. Before we took the decision to appoint Pinnacle Communications as the Signal Distributor for Abuja, this ground we are standing on today was all trees and bushes. But in the space of just 3 months, this company has proven that indeed in Nigeria, we have the capacity and zeal to make progress for our country. Pinnacle Communications Limited has invested heavily in this project and we commend them for their strong faith in Nigeria.

8. I also want to commend the National broadcasting Commission (NBC), which is driving this process; our Digiteam chaired by Engineer Amana, CCNL, Inview, BON and RATTAWU. I believe that together we will make Nigeria greater and better, as we democratize the access to digital broadcasting.

9. I thank you all for your kind attention.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed 

Honourable Minister of Information and Culture

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