By BARBARA KALU
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has pledged a continuous and rapid rollout of digital television across the country, in order to ensure that Nigerians benefit from the immense benefits of the Digital Switch Over (DSO).
The Minister spoke in Ilorin on Wednesday at the launch of the DSO in Ilorin, Kwara State.
”We cannot afford to drop the ball as we continue our journey from analogue to digital television, because the benefits to our people are huge. Yes, this process has not been without hiccups. But like the saying goes, you will never reach your destination if you stop to throw stones at every dog that barks,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the DSO is not just to move customers and Nigerians from analogue to digital in a simple technical sense, but to transform the whole TV watching experience.
”In doing this, we are ensuring access to information for all citizens, a key ingredient of democracy, and also ensuring the economic empowerment of all participants in the industry while providing a level playing field for Nigerian companies and entrepreneurs to build viable businesses,” he said.
The Minister implored the Integrated Television Services (ITS), the Signal Distributor for Kwara State, to rapidly extend the digital television experience beyond Ilorin and its environs, ”so that the good people of Kwara can reap the digital benefits. Our people deserve no less”.
He said the key benefits of the DSO programme, which will help to achieve a credible and effective development of the digital economy, include the availability of over 30 digital channels to Nigerians without monthly subscription; the creation of tens of thousands of jobs through technical and manufacturing opportunities, especially the local production of Set-Top-Boxes or decoders.
Alhaji Mohammed also said the DSO will catalyze the growth of the TV advertising market by $400m per annum through audience measurement, and also create a 100 Billion Naira per annum FreeTV distribution network for Nollywood, among others.
Dignitaries at the occasion include the Kwara State Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Mahmud Babatunde Ajeigbe, who stood in for the State Governor; the Directors-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu; and the NTA, Mallam Yakubu Ibn Mohammed and the Chairman of Digiteam, Mr. Edward Amana