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No going back in meeting 2017 Digital Switch Over deadline – Buhari

In view of the hitch-free Digital Switch Over (DSO) from analogue to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting in Abuja Thursday, the Federal Government has promised to meet up the June 17, 2017 international deadline.

President Muhammadu Buhari dropped this hint yesterday in Abuja when he switched on the Abuja platform at the Pinnacle Broadcast Centre, Mpape.

Buhari who was represented by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo disclosed that by the switch over the government is helping to diversify the economy and to initiate the digital economy and access to the internet using freed spectrum for broadband penetration.

Explaining more on the scheme, President Buhari lauded the successful launch of the pilot scheme in Jos in April, which he said has clearly demonstrated the gains of digitization, stressing that the development is encouraging indigenous companies to invest in manufacturing of Set-Top-Boxes (STBs).

He said “First is that it would liberalize access to and increase the versatility of media information.  Interactive programming, two-way data exchanges, mobile reception of video, internet and multimedia data will open up. The opportunities that this will provide are only limited by the imagination. Advertising, formal education, sales and marketing are obvious low hanging fruits”.

In his remarks, the minister of Information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that the DSO in broadcasting will provide a boost of N100 billion per annum Free TV distribution network for Nollywood, among a number of positive spin-offs.

He listed the multiplier effects of the scheme to include job creation, 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 and a world class Electronic Programme Guide that will make television viewing an unbeatable experience.

Continuing, elated Mohammed said “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.

In his welcome address, the Director General of NBC, Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu while appreciating industry players for their hard work in ensuring that the switch over at Abuja were successful, thanked the President for promptly releasing fund for the project.

According to him 30 different TV visuals would be transmitted while 20% of the content would be local and would offer job opportunities to Nigerians especially the youths.

Kawu noted that “We would involve states governors in the six Geo-Political Zones before the deadline next year”.

The Chairman Digiteam Nigeria Engineer Edward Amana said Nigeria would require over 30 million boxes to effect a nationwide switch over from analogue to the digital switch, even as a total of 30 companies have been given approval to produce set up boxes.

He traced earlier hiccups to the lukewarm attitude of stakeholders who he said have now realized the importance and are now investing massively for the success of the scheme.

Amana stated that when the switch over is properly in place, over 26,000 Nigerians would be employed while there would be no going back on the June 17, 2017 target by the global body.

In his goodwill message, the Chairman, Pinnacle Broadcast Limited, the signal distributor in Abuja, Sir Lucky Omoluwa said by the switch over the government has restored confidence to the people and assured enough technical support from his group for the residents as the city goes live by transiting from analogue to digital TV experience.