FG Set to Roll out Digital Switch Over in 31 States

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By Iyobosa Uwugiaren

With N9.4 billion paid to stakeholders, including service providers, approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), and with 31 states to cover, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the federal government has no more excuses for not rapidly rolling out the Digital Switch Over (DSO).

The minister, at the inauguration of the ministerial task force saddled with the responsibility of driving the DSO project, said the process could create over one million jobs in the next three years.

He stated that as part of the federal government’s efforts to maximise the opportunities inherent in the process, it reviewed the Broadcast Code to protect local jobs and production.

He added that the federal government has also started the process of introducing world-class Audience Measurement and Media Monitoring to deliver on the potential one-billion-dollar TV and online advertising revenue market and ensure that the DSO ecosystem delivers value to the economy.

Mohammed listed the additional benefits of the DSO process to include manufacturing alone creating between 40,000 and 50,000 jobs because digitisation requires all homes to have a set-top-box or smart TV.

Mohammed said: ‘’TV production alone can create 200,000 jobs. Digitisation will make it possible to have at least 180 state channels, 30 regional channels, and at least 10 national channels, catering for local music, news, film, children programming, and sports, among others.

‘’This will create better competition because with the audience measurement and media monitoring system put in place, you can now measure which programmes people are watching so that value is rewarded.’’

According to him, with DSO, film production can generate 350,000 to 400,000 jobs and just as Nollywood moved from VHS tapes to VCD and DVD, it will now, with digitalisation, move to Push and Subscription Video-On-Demand on the Set-Top-Boxes and online, thus curbing piracy, making distribution cheaper, easier, and further enriching film producers.

Mohammed said as an extension to the booming production business, another 200,000 jobs could be created as Nigeria grew the capacity to meet the quality demand of fully-indigenous content creations, expected to bring back the over $100 million currently exported to South Africa, Europe, and the United States by Nigerian producers.

On distribution, he said to supply the market with Set-Top-Boxes, TVs, and dongles required for internet connection, the country would need at least 100,000 wholesalers, retailers, electricians, installers, marketers, and payment solution providers in order to cover the entire country.

‘’TV and online advertising can create a further 50,000 jobs: The concept of advertising will become more local than national because you can target customers at the bottom of the income bracket with products specific to their needs and location.

‘’And, of course, fast-moving consumer goods will have more forensic proof of their customers and what they watch and where they are. Finally, with a successful DSO, the problem of internet connection to every home will finally be solved’’, the minister explained.

He said the process would be commercially driven, reduce the government’s involvement in the DSO ecosystem and allow the private sector to take the lead.