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FG to roll out digital switch over in Lagos, Kano, Rivers, others

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Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed at a meeting with Title Editors of major newspapers in Lagos. Photo: TWITTER/FMICNIGERIA


Nigeria’s first analogue switch off holds May 28 in Abuja

The Federal Government has concluded arrangement to roll out the second phase of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project in Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Yobe and Gombe states.

This comes as the first Analogue Switch off (ASO) in the country takes place on May 28, 2021 in Abuja, while the remaining Phase 1 states of Plateau, Kaduna, Kwara, Enugu and Osun would follow in June, August and September.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who made the disclosure yesterday in Abuja, explained that before the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) embarks on the analogue switch off in any state, it would ensure that Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) signal had covered at least 70 per cent of the population, while the remaining 30 per cent is covered by Direct-To-Home (DTH) satellite signal.

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He warned that once the analogue signal is switched off, no one on the system would receive the reception anymore. The minister observed that because of the topography of some areas like the Federal Capital Territory, the DTT signal could not effectively cover all.
Consequently, government would deploy DTH satellite signals to the affected areas.

Mohammed said to ensure affordability of the boxes, his ministry would reach out to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments for reduced tariff on raw materials.

He said: “We will aim at zero per cent tariff for the Completely Knocked Down components and not more than five per cent tariff for the Semi-Knocked Down components, as against the current tariff of five per cent for the Completely Knocked Down components and 10 per cent for the Semi-Knocked Down components. By doing so, we will ensure that the set top boxes are within the reach of average Nigerians.

“Another issue that I will like to comment on, and which is of great interest to the public, is the price of the set top boxes or decoders if you like, without which no one can access the DTT and DTH signals.”

The minister added: “The set top box manufacturers have also assured us of their readiness to make enough boxes available for the planned massive rollout.

“We intend to roll out the DSO in four states, three of them heavily-populated states. This is to accentuate our eagerness to take the DSO to as many Nigerians as possible, as well as to ensure its viability as we have now decided that the process will be commercially driven. Our decision to also kick-start the analogue switch off is a clear testimony to our commitment to complete the DSO process as soon as possible.”

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According to him, “the Federal Government will also support the channel owners and content providers through the implementation of the audience measurement system to guarantee a sustained stream of revenue from advertising for them to invest in the development of compelling contents. In this regard, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) has been directed to implement key policies to guarantee the advertising income of media houses by creating a healthy environment for the media outfits to operate. Very soon, APCON and the NBC will sign an MoU on zero advertising debts to ensure that revenue from advertisers goes to the media owners.”

In his contribution, Acting Director General of the NBC, Dr Armstrong Idachaba, said effective from the date of the analogue switch off, television broadcast could only be received with the DSO-approved set top boxes, stressing that enough of the facilities would available to authourised vendors and manufacturers.

He noted that a two-month period from the release of the DSO time-table had been provided for the public to get ready for the FCT exercise, while analogue switch off for the remaining five locations in phase 1 is to be completed before the end of the year.

Idachaba stated that the departure from the initial rollout plan of six locations from each geopolitical zone was necessitated by the need to evolve a self-sustaining strategy for the DSO.

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He submitted that the new timetable would be kick-started with a roll out in Lagos on April 29, Kano for June 3, as Rivers gets its on July 8 before the exercise proceeds to Yobe and Gombe on July 15 and August i2 this year.

The NBC boss explained that following this rollout, the signal distributors are to, within the same period, complete the installation of additional transmitters and gap fillers to attain 70 to 80 per cent coverage in the existing six locations in Phase 1 which includes the FCT, Plateau, Kaduna, Kwara, Enugu and Osun states.

He went on: “Following the commencement of Phase 2 roll out, with switch on in Lagos, Kano and Rivers states between April and July 2021, some four to five months period will be allowed before each switch off to allow for adequate public preparedness. By the end of the first quarter of 2022, an additional 10 states would have been switched on under Phase 2 namely Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Yobe, Gombe, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Oyo, Jigawa and Ebonyi states

“Phase 3 switch on commences in December 2021 and ends with final Analogue Switch Off (ASO) on December 8, 2022.”

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