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The Group Managing Director of Gospell Digital Technology (GDT), latest indigenous digital technology and set-top boxes (STBs) manufacturer, Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa has explained why the federal government will continue to subsidise the cost of STBs to the citizenry.
In an interview after the commissioning of his factor at Calabar free trade zone recently, he told Business Hilights that apart from paying part of the cost of STBs for some Nigerians, government will both in the short and long run recoup and make more money.
He said “Let’s face the fact, government is the one that brought this solution or policy and not the citizens that we migrate from analogue to digital and for good reasons, government is going to make a lot of money from it. How will government make money?
“By migrating from analogue to digital, government will firm back all those frequencies hitherto used by TV stations and as you are aware, one of those frequencies was sold last two years by NBC, a frequency that was obtained by NTA or channel for N25 million or N100 million is sold for over 34 billion.
Ohuabunwa noted that “Government will make money and create jobs and there are other values. So, citizens are not the ones who can change this. If government can change it, it is important. Government has the responsibility to provide for the poor”.
“Yes, people will buy the boxes but government has the responsibility to take care of my mother in the village who has an old TV set. So, as it is done all over the world it is the duty of government to subsidise those boxes to low-income citizens. I encourage government to continue to subsidise those boxes for low-income houses.
Giving further insights, GDT boss recalled that “Bearing in mind that the set-top boxes would be used to collect TV license fees, government will be able to make between N50 billion to N300 billion annually from TV license all over Nigeria if 30 to 35 million Nigerians log on. The benefits are huge”.
“However, since the last roll out in Jos and Abuja there has been lull on the part of government and NBC but I believe with the new commitment and zeal that the government will do more because they have said they will go to the next six states and by the end of next year we would have completely switched off.
“So, the sustainability of the subsidy box is there. However, our business model is to sell to the open market. This is the two parts we are selling the STB to the open market while encouraging the government to continue to subsidise,” Sir Ohuabunwa explained.
Continuing, he disclosed that “Gospell Group and the Digital Switch over (DSO) will provide huge opportunities for the broadcast industry in Nigeria. The Nollywood industry is the third largest in the world. The minister has said he wants to grow the Nollywood to a N100 billion industry and he would do that. If you walk the streets of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, you will see that piracy is one of the major challenges. Nollywood will produce a film today and it will be in Ghana the next day. I had an experience when we produced Amazing Grace by Jeta Amata. We previewed the film and I went to Seria Lone and I saw them selling the film on the streets.
He disclosed that going forward with the DSO will mark the end of piracy crisis, saying “You will not have to buy CDs; immediately a movie is released in Lagos, Kaduna or Port Harcourt, the film will be released in the box”.
“What it means is that every Nigerian that has the box, with the click of a button pays N10 and watch the film. Imagine if every Nigerian pays N10 and 30 million people watch it, the guy has walked away with 30 million overnight. Two, how does it affect you? You are supposed to buy a CD for N300. You don’t have to buy, but pay N10 to watch the film and be happy. Besides, the number of channels that are being viewed by citizens will increase. Today, you have about five national channels but on the DSO Abuja is watching 35 free to air channels and it will grow to a 100. Three, it will create lots of jobs. All the young graduates will create new channels. You can have channels for Idoma, gari eaters, for those who like to dance, for marketing channels for short people.