The liberalisation of broadcasting in Nigeria in the 1990s abolished the monopoly of public service broadcasters and led to the emergence and swift growth of privately-owned radio and television services. In the same period, Nigeria’s telecommunications industry was liberalised and by 2001, the global system for mobile communications (GSM) was introduced. The entrance of GSM was marked by innovation resulting in early adoption by millions of individuals and businesses. In no time, businesses could customise their numbers and this kicked off the era of talk radio.
Talk radio gained popularity rapidly. From news analyses to sports and general interest shows, listeners do not only tune in, they phone in to air their opinions on topical issues.
Although the rise of new technology was predicted to spell the end of traditional media, the popularity of talk radio has boosted radio listenership in the country. Unlike television which is widespread, few Nigerian households have a radio set, with most listening to the radio in their cars, public commuter vehicles or mobile phones. Rapid urbanisation has ensured that most Nigerian cities are now yoked with traffic congestion, a state of affairs that has made radio a great companion to the average commuter.
The launch of Wazobia FM 95.1, Nigeria’s foremost Pidgin English radio station, was another game changer in radio broadcasting in the country. The widespread use of Pidgin English, Nigeria’s unofficial bridge language, was of great benefit to the station, making it gain wide acceptance and listenership in Lagos. Due to its wide acceptance, Wazobia FM has spread outside Lagos, now also transmitting from Port Harcourt and Abuja. So, when news broke that Wazobia FM, had launched on GOtv, it was well received because it meant that the channel could reach a wider audience.
Wazobia FM made its debut on GOtv in December 2015 as the first 24-hour audio channel on the digital terrestrial television (DTT). GOtv did not stop there, four months later, in April 2016 Naija FM 102.7 Lagos, another Pidgin English radio station, went live on GOtv.
It is also noteworthy that GOtv is the first and only DTT operator in Nigeria to offer audio channels as of today.
The availability of audio channels on digital TV such as GOtv is the result of technological convergence – single devices performing multiple tasks and diverse array of content being accessed through the same device. This is good news for the avid Nigerian radio listener because he doesn’t need own a radio set or no longer needs to wait to get into a car or tune to the radio on his mobile phone to listen to Wazobia or Naija FM. He can simply choose to tune in from the comfort of his home.
Chris Ubosi, Managing Director of Megalectrics Ltd reinforced this when he said: “We are delighted to partner with MultiChoice Nigeria on the launch of Naija FM 102.7, Lagos on GOtv. The partnership is significant as it creates an additional medium for us to reach our audience.”
Furthermore, Wazobia FM 95.1 and Naija FM 102.7, both Lagos-based now reach Nigerians in the six geo-political zones as GOtv now covers major cities and towns in 25 states. Access to more TV channels has been continuously emphasised as a key benefit of digital migration, with not many talking of the possibility of carrying radio channels on TV. More so, the ripple effect of a regional radio station having a national reach – as is now the case of Wazobia FM 95.1 and Naija FM 102.7.
Since its launch in October 2011, GOtv proclaimed itself a partner to the Nigerian government in the actualisation of digital migration. In line with this and though not the pioneer DTT pay-TV service in Nigeria, GOtv was the first to deploy the approved Digital Video Broadcast technology, second generation (DVB-T2) in this market.
GOtv also promised to offer quality content at an affordable price, from offering 27 channels at launch about five years ago, it now offers 49 channels – 47 TV and 2 radio.
John Ugbe, Managing Director, MultiChoice Nigeria, said that no other digital terrestrial television (DTT) operator in Nigeria has shown more commitment and support for local content made in Nigeria for Nigerians than GOtv. Its Africa Magic channels – especially Yoruba – with its local content offering remains a unique selling point. This decision to carry local radio channels on its platform will definitely strengthen its foothold in Nigeria’s DTT space.
– Gbemiyi is a public affairs analyst.