By Juliet Umeh
Lagos State yesterday, switched on to the free Open Digital Terrestrial Television, DTT, in the state. DTT is a free TV that enables Nigerians to reap the benefits of the digital television without having to break the bank. Once a TV household acquires the Set-Top-Box and pays the once-a-year access fee such a user begins to enjoy free television services.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, while launching the project in Lagos said the switch-on of Lagos to digital broadcasting is unique and epochal because it marks the first time Nigerians would enjoy 60 choice channels to television households for free.
He said: “This event is not by accident because Lagos is Nigeria’s creative hub; hence it is important to harness the creative talents that abound in the state through this project.
“The DSO provides us with a great platform to key into the Lagos Smart City Project, which seeks to use technology to enhance service delivery in all spheres of life.
“The DSO is not just about high fidelity sound and picture, it is about creating jobs, especially for our teeming youths, stimulating local content, and empowering channel owners.
“Our FreeTV brand is not a fluke. There is no monthly subscription payment. This enables millions of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay the rising subscription fees being charged by the Pay-TV platforms to enjoy the benefit of digital television.
“Today’s event marks the beginning of the second phase of the DSO rollout. It is coming a day before the fifth anniversary of the launch of the pilot programme of the DSO in Jos, Plateau State, on 30 April 2016. We acknowledge the power and the extensive reach of modern broadcasting, which makes it a veritable tool for national development. The democratization of digital television in Nigeria, which is what DSO is about, fits into the federal government’s vision for a digital Nigerian economy.
Also, Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba said despite switching Lagos to the digital broadcasting platform, the analogue system will not be immediately switched off, to allow both broadcasting stations and viewers to adjust to the new system properly.
He stated that it will gradually be eliminated and concluded in six months. Idachaba said: “The Digital switch-on we are activating here in Lagos today means that from today with just a set-top box Lagosians can now enjoy over 30 digital television services, subscription-free.
“Let me also remind us that six months from today, analogue broadcasting will be switched off in Lagos. I, therefore, urge us all to acquire the set-top boxes which are available and produced in the country by Nigerians.
“Since the commencement of the DSO implementation in 2015 we have also licensed over 140 Digital Terrestrial Television Channels cutting across national, regional, and local channels. We expect that Lagos will quickly scale up to some 60 channels, within the next few weeks.
“I am sure that the Lagos state government will also now explore the information outlet on the box to reach citizens. We already have the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, State House, and Ministry of Information on the information platform.
Commending the initiative, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, described it as a real definition of bridging the digital divide.
He said: “I am convinced that making the FreeTV Set Top Box a one-off payment with an annual renewal will provide an opportunity for millions of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay the subscription fees being charged by the PayTV platforms to enjoy the benefit of digital television. This is really the definition of bridging the digital divide.”