Nigeria has finally made history with the Digital Switch Over from analogue to digital in Television broadcasting with the target of 30 million viewers across the country, which will make the country the biggest Free TV market in the world.
In addition, the much awaited Digital Switch Over from analogue to Digital switch over will become the much-needed panacea to the menace of piracy dogging the music and movie industries, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said.
The Minister explained that this is because musicians and movie producers will be able to release their works directly to the platform, where they can be purchased, thus wrong-footing those who have been pirating their works.
The pilot scheme of the DSO took place In Jos, the Plateau State capital on Saturday where the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed performed the switch over.
He said the government was ready to go from city to city until the entire length and breadth of the country is covered by the June 2017 deadline.
“The Federal Government is also giving out, free of charge, the 200,000 boxes for the pilot phase. And the Plateau State Government has agreed to buy 300,000 boxes for their citizens.
With the switch over, the broadcast landscape and architecture, as well as the local, state and national economy would be better for it.”
However, another implication of the transition is the fact that it has democratized the right to know, the right to knowledge and the right to be informed.
According to the minister, “this is simply because with what we are doing today, the average Jos person does not need to pay subscription to watch the best news and entertainment from around the world. And this with high quality sound and high resolution picture, which are equal – if not superior – to any in the world.”
Instead of only five (5) TV channels at best to watch, with this revolution, there would be available fifteen (15) TV channels, local and international news as well as local and foreign entertainment.
However, through the information service, viewers can access news about government activities without necessarily surfing the Internet.
While watching a particular channel, the viewer can also know the other programmes available on that channel, using the EPG, or Electronic Programme Guide.
“In terms of the economy, all licensed Set Top Box manufacturers have been mandated to establish manufacturing companies in Nigeria to produce the boxes locally, after importing the first set of boxes. This will create massive employment and also ensure the transfer of technology for our people.
Also, due to availability of many channels, there will be an astronomical increase in the need for content, and this will fire the creative ability of our youths.”Lai Mohammed added.
Three dates are significant in the history of television in Nigeria: 1959 when the WNBC launched the first TV Station in Africa, 1976, when the first colour TV was switched on, also here in the city of Jos, and this year 2016, transiting from analogue to digital in the same Jos.
The journey that started in 2004, when the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Council adopted Resolution 1185 on transition from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting, is finally nearing its destination.