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No going back on June 2017 Digital Switchover deadline— Buhari

*Says transition’ll cut off piracy; create N100bn revenue per annum

By Emmanuel Elebeke

Abuja—President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday vowed that his administration remained irreversibly committed to meeting the June 2017 deadline for the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting.

Buhari

President Buhari made the promise yesterday at the Abuja Launch of Digital Switch Over, DSO, in broadcasting.

The President, who was represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at the launch, said the Federal Government was also determined to ensure a seamless roll-out of the DSO in all the states of the federation because of the multiplier effect of the benefits.

He expressed optimism that the exercise would create jobs in the area of content and software development, provide the platform for film producers and musicians to release their productions directly to households, and substantially cut off piracy.

Given the significance of the DSO to the economy, Buhari said local industries were already experiencing a boost from the new vista in digital economy, with several indigenous companies now manufacturing set-top-boxes.

“Technology is transforming our lives and livelihoods daily in new and more dramatic ways. But perhaps more important are the doors opened by digital transition.

“The successful launch of the pilot scheme in Jos in April has clearly demonstrated the gains of Digital Switch Over.

“Let me restate for emphasis that this government is irreversibly committed to meeting the June 2017 deadline for the switchover in the West African sub-region and also to the roll-out of the DSO in all the states of the federation.

“The significance of the DSO cannot be lost on the world as the digital switchover becomes a reality in the capital city of Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation.

“I am confident that DSO  would liberalize access to digital broadcasting and increase the versatility of media information.  interactive programming, two-way data exchanges, mobile reception of video, internet and multimedia data will open up.

“The opportunities that this will provide are only limited by the imagination. Advertising, formal education, sales and marketing are obvious low hanging fruits.

“I had mentioned in my speech to the National Assembly that Nigerian artistes and entrepreneurs in music, entertainment and film making will be important pillars in our diversification plans,” he said.

President Buhari, however, appealed to all state and local governments to be actively involved in the project because of the obvious advantages to the people and the economy.

He commended the NBC, Pinnacle Communications and Messerschmitt SMK for their performance on the switchover project.

In his address, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji L:ai Mohammed, said the transition was expected to generate about N100 billion per annum through the FreeTV distribution network for Nollywood and also grow the TV advertising market by $400 million per annum through audience measurement.

The Minister said the signal distributor had put up high quality service that would move customers and Nigerians from analogue to digital in a simple, technical sense to ensure a total overhaul of the whole TV watching experience and the economy around it.

“The core principles of democracy are equality, common participation, total access to information for all citizens, economic empowerment of all participants in the industries and a level playing field for Nigerian companies and entrepreneurs to build viable businesses.

“By these, we are expecting to help diversify our economy by properly exploiting our great talent and creative human and natural resources, which we strongly believe are second to none in Africa,’’ Mohammed said.

He listed some of the benefits of the digital economy to include offering of 30 free digital channels; free and easy access to government and public information through a touch of the remote control; current affairs and news available through the middleware on the boxes and job creation, among others.


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