The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed during the Biennial Conference of Africa Broadcasters (Africast) noted that the digitisation of Nigeria’s broadcast industry has the potential to generate over $1 billion in revenue, annually. Although the digitisation process has not been fully implemented, the minister’s projection reveals one revenue stream that may have been overlooked by the Federal Government.
Following the pilot phase digital transmission project which kickstarted the digitisation process in Jos, the project has recorded some level of success. According to Lai Mohammed, over 200,000 Set Top Boxes (STBs) for the Digital Switchover (DSO) have been distributed to households in Jos. With this favourable outcome, the 2017 deadline for the digitisation of the broadcast industry seems plausible.
Mohammed said he is optimistic about the 2017 deadline, which may be reflective of Nigeria’s commitments made to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). The value of this digitisation programme will be for local content developers. Digital transition will open the window for free Television service with up to 30 channels.
However, for this programme to be successfully replicated in other states, the lessons learnt from the Jos roll-out should be analysed carefully. Inadequate knowledge of the digital switchover among broadcasters and the public is one key challenge that might hinder the fast adoption of digital broadcasting. During the conference, some attendees suggested the use of hybrid signal distribution which will allow both free TV services and pay TV which in turn benefits investors.
The call to diversify the economy is getting intensified now that the nation is in recession. Several moves by the Ministry of Finance to review dormant revenue lines have recently revealed the underperformance of some government parastatals. Therefore, media may be an income generation channel for the country.
However, 2016 is drawing to a close and the next year deadline is around the corner, yet only one city (Jos) can boast of digital broadcasting so far.
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