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… As Plateau govt pledges support for digital migration


Lai-Mohammed PHOTO:

Lai-Mohammed<br />PHOTO:

The Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon Lalong, has pledged the support of his administration for the actualisation of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in broadcasting in the country by June 2017.

Mr. Lalong, who gave the pledge in Jos during a courtesy visit by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Friday expressed delight that Plateau State was selected for the pilot scheme.

“We look forward to the pilot take-off of this project on the Plateau. I want to assure you that we will do all within our means to support this project and also to help so that Nigerians will have the benefit of this programme,” he said

The governor said his initial fear when the nation failed to meet the DSO target on two occasions had been allayed by the renewed commitment of this administration to the realization of the project.

“I also count it a blessing to be part of this historic moment. I was looking forward to its realisation when it came up this year and I was reading in the newspapers some problems with the issue. I was also on my knees praying that it will not affect the initial exercise but today to God’s glory it is confirmed that it is going to happen,’’ he said.

He expressed the confidence that with Alhaji Mohammed in the saddle, the digitisation project will definitely succeed.

Mr. Lalong also assured that with peace and security as the cardinal policy of his administration, Plateau State would be returned to the path of permanent peace for development and socio-economic activities to thrive.

Earlier, the Minister told the Governor that the Federal Government would flag off the pilot scheme of the digital crossover in Jos in April this year, noting that Plateau State was chosen because of its pioneering role in television broadcasting in the country.

“I must say that Plateau State is a trailblazer in many ways. This is the state where colour television was first premiered, and now it is the same state that is hosting the pilot project of our digital television switch over. Our ability to meet the 2017 deadline depends largely on the success of the pilot project, hence Plateau is key to successfully achieving a digital switch over in Nigeria. I congratulate the Governor and the entire people of the state for shouldering this enormous responsibility,” the Minister said.

Alhaji Mohammed said more jobs will be created with the take-off of the digitisation programme and restated the commitment of the Federal Government to meeting the deadline.
“In the area of Signal Distribution Service jobs, the broadcast signal distributors will generate new jobs for Nigerian youths. The NBC has licensed the required signal distributors for Nigeria in line with Government Policy on DSO.

‘’There is no doubt that as they continue to expand their operations, starting from Jos to various locations across the country during the digital switchover of the various cities in Nigeria, new employees will come on board to man their equipment and run their facilities,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, the Minister had interacted with stakeholders involved in the DSO and inspected the transmission facilities preparatory to the relaunch of the pilot scheme next month.

“After missing an earlier deadline for Digital Switch Over (DSO), Nigeria has committed to achieving DSO by June 2017. Let me state here, for the avoidance of doubt, that we will not miss that target. This is because missing the target will amount to delaying the huge benefits that will accrue to the nation from a successful DSO. More over, if we do not meet this deadline all our channels will suffer from interference,” Alhaji Mohammed had told his guests at the meeting.

According to him, the transition “is a unique opportunity for the country to increase the provision of television and radio channels and enhance the quality of signals as well as the local content, which in turn will contribute significantly to the nation’s economy.

“Digital compression allows more channels to be transmitted with better image quality, good sound and improved interactive applications. I am informed that about eight times as many channels can be broadcast with the same amount of transmission capacity as is currently used for one analogue channel.

“In addition, the switch-off of the analogue signal will result in a large increase in the supply of television channels available to viewers, with viewers receiving 30+ digital channels instead of 4-5 analogue ones

‘’Nigeria currently has 20 million TV households, and DSO will make the country the biggest free-to-air market in Africa and indeed the world, and a host of value-added services such as news, information and video on demand. Also, bandwidth will be freed up for other uses,” the Minister said.

While enumerating the ripple effect of the Digital Switch Over on the nation’s economy, Alhaji Mohammed said 5,000 direct jobs will be created for young engineers and technicians and another 10,000 jobs from small-scale entrepreneurs and technicians who will start up distribution and retail outlets throughout the 774 local government areas.

“More creative hands will be required to create the 24/7 content needed to operate the digital television channels, thus leading to the creation and spring-up of new TV content producers and artists. The DSO will also allow Nollywood producers to monetize their movies directly to 20 Million TV households in Nigeria at the same time, and this will solve the problem of distribution and piracy,” he said.

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