Kano Goes Digital As Ganduje Procures 100, 000 Decoders For Govt. Agencies, Others

From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano

On Tuesday, November 2, 2021, Kano became the second out of the 13 states to go digital in the second phase of the digital Switchover (DSO) sensation in Nigeria. Recall that the project was launched in Lagos on April 29, 2021. Before then, states like Plateau, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Enugu, Kwara, Osun had gone digital between 2016 and 2018, during the first phase of the digital sensation in Nigeria. Expectedly, other states to benefit in the second phase include Rivers, Yobe, Gombe, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Oyo, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Katsina, Anambra and Delta.

About 500, 000 decoders have been sent to Kano to launch the programme, as  Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has declared that his administration will purchase and distribute 100,000 units of the decoders in the state. He said out of number of decoders to be purchased by the state government, 10,000 will be shared to government ministries, departments, agencies, parastatals, as well as Primary Healthcare Centers and Local Government Councils in the state. He also announced that December  2021 will end the use of analogue TV in Kano, as DSO will be fully in use across the 44 Local Government Areas in the state.

Ganduje who said Kano state government and its people wholesomely welcomed the launching of DSO in the state, noted that the innovation will not only boost the state economy, but will also create jobs, and enhance dissemination of information through TV. He further described DSO as a good omen to the entertainment industry in the state. He added that the DSO will necessarily give the poorest of the poor in the state the opportunity to access quality TV contents through local, national and international contents, just like the rich. He said Kano state government is fully in support of the project and will ensure that residents of the state embraced it.

In his address, the Minister of Information, Mr. Lai Mohammed, commended Ganduje for playing a major role towards ensuring the success of digital switchover in Kano. “I want to most sincerely thank HisExcellency, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, and indeed the people andgovernment of Kano State, for their support and cooperation in makingtoday’s launch a reality. Please permit me to emphasize the fact thatHis Excellency’s passion for the DSO Project is admirable andunparalleled. I have had occasions to discuss the DSO Project with HisExcellency, and he has never left me in any doubt about his passionand commitment to the success of the project, especially in KanoState. His Excellency even invited me to address, in Abuja, members ofhis cabinet, as well as state and federal legislators from Kano Stateon the benefits of the DSO Project. Your Excellency, I thank you onceagain,” Lai said.
The Minister also commended all the stakeholders who have worked hardfor the success of the DSO launch in Kano, with special recognition to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Digiteam,Broadcast Signal Distributors, Set-Top-Box Manufacturers, theMiddleware providers – Inview and Renmore -, BroadcastingOrganisations of Nigeria (BON) and all members of the Ministerial TaskForce on DSO.

Mr. Lai Mohammed further stated that the Federal Government is vigorously implementing a comprehensive nationwide process of transitioning from analogue to digital television broadcasting, which is referred to as the Digital Switchover (DSO) project.  According to him, “the decision to transition from analogue to digital television followed a treaty that was signed at the Regional Radio communication Conference (RRC-06) in Geneva, Switzerland, on June16, 2016 to usher in ‘all-digital’ terrestrial broadcast services for sound and television. This is aimed at creating a more equitable, just and people-centered Information Society, which would connect under served populations and remote communities, thereby bridging the digital divide.

He listed the  key benefits of digital television broadcasting to include: wider choice in TV and radio channels; proved picture, for example, HD, UHD and High-Fidelity sound; greater flexibility with the potential for portable and mobile reception; enhanced information services including the Electronic Programming Guide or enhanced ‘teletext’ services (with enhanced graphics); potential for interactivity; and increased market competition and innovation (thanks to the potential arrival of new entrants at different levels in the value-chain, for instance new service providers, broadcasters, etc.).

He said, “additionally, the DSO process can enable a variety of competing service offers, improve digital service coverage even in remote places, and improve access to communication networks while acting as a catalyst for better management of spectrum resources. Due to bandwidth restrictions, analogue television only offers a small selection of programs and is therefore outmoded. The same transmission channel used to broadcast a single analogue program can carry a multiplex of up to20 digital programmes of better quality. Thus, the DSO television platform, branded as  Free TV, provides users with over 60 digital channels, ranging from sports and music to movies and the latest headlines. Both DTT and DTH transmissions of Free TV are readily available throughout the country.”

The Minister further stated that, “in addition to the broadcast services, Free TV offers Value Added Services (VAS) such as: enforcement & Collection of TV Licenses; premium Pay TV channels; push Video on Demand; information Services; and audience Measurement.

He explained that, “the Federal Government is prioritizing the DSO project because it is critical to the post-Covid recovery and prosperity of the Creative Industry. The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, working with its relevant agencies – NBC and APCON – has commenced the process of implementing Audience Measurement, which will go a long way in driving advertising spend to the DSO platform, thus helping the channels to fulfill their obligations to the Signal Distributors. We have also instituted a number of reforms, some of them necessitating amendments to the Broadcasting Code which we have since carried out, with a view to encouraging investments in the Broadcast Industry in particular and the Creative Industry in general. On Monday(yesterday), I received the good news that a Federal High Court in Lagos has thrown out the case brought by some busybodies challenging our power to amend the Broadcasting Code. This laudable judgement has cleared the way for investments to flow into the Broadcast Industry.

“As I have always said, the absence of a world class audiencemeasurement regime has resulted in under-investment in the sector,which is necessary to foster the growth of the industry, as theAdvertising community continues to rely on subjective factors whenmaking decisions on the content they want, as opposed to how manyviewers the content truly attracts. Consequently, television platformsare subjected to renting out space on their channels to sustain theirbusinesses, and content producers are at the mercy of sponsors, adevelopment which, unfortunately, skews the authenticity of theircreative output in favor of a few decision makers, instead of themillions of TV viewers.

The existing model will never enable Nigeria’s Creative Industry to reach its full potential. It stunts the quality of the content that can be created and also limits the capacity of television platforms to invest in dynamic contents that consumers willbe attracted to.

The Federal Government is also putting in place an Industry Framework that will ensure that content producers receive their just due for the value of the content they create, as well as provideobjective guarantees to the Advertising community with regards toReturn-On-Investment on media placements. This will then have theoverall effect of guaranteeing greater spend by the Advertisers, whoare all seeking to grow their market share.

The Ministry, through NBC and APCON, has implemented a system to monitor the media purchases and ensure that advertising revenues are earned by the broadcasters in due time. The collaboration between NBC and APCON is to guarantee zero advertising debt for the broadcasting Industry.”

The Minister said,  “I want to put on record that since I inaugurated a 14-memberMinisterial Task Force in February this year to drive the DSO rollout across the country, we have made notable progress. Following the approval from the Federal Executive Council and the release of 50% of the outstanding payment, we have since disbursed part payment to all stakeholders who are being owed. We have also initiated the process to complete the payment and put the stakeholders in good stead to carryout their obligations to the DSO project.

“But I must say that, with the termination of subsidy, the funding of the DSO through the establishment and operation of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) made of States and private equity is critical to achieving a faster rollout and introducing new investment into the sector, with shared infrastructure costs. Let me also say that no meaningful DSO Project can happen unless Set-Top-Boxes or Decoders are widely available and affordable, and some channels catering for children’s programmes, sports and religion are encouraged to thrive. Those channels are also critical to thesuccess of the DSO, because they have the potential to attract many eyeballs to the DSO platform. Still talking about Set-Top-Boxes,affordability is a key factor in making digital television available to all.

Indeed, Set-Top-Boxes represent the very minimum entry point in the world of digital television broadcasting. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure a reliable supply of low-cost STBs for purchase by the general public. I want to use this opportunity to implore state governments to be at the vanguard of providing Set-Top-Boxes to their people. This is because the provision of Set-Top-Boxes is a social service that will take governance to the grassroots and bridge the information gap between the government and the governed, among other advantages. For Kano State in particular, with a population of over 15million peoples, governance will be revolutionized if each of the 2.4million television households can have a Set-Top-Box.

“Finally, I want to thank the NBC, Gospel Limited and In view, which have worked in collaboration with the Kano State Government to organize a technical empowerment training for 50 technicians and 50dealers drawn from the 44 local government areas of Kano state. The 50technicians have since been given starter packs for installation and activation of decoders. I am reliably informed that the NBC has also conducted awareness training on the DSO for Information Officers of the NOA in the states and the local governments, and that about500,000 decoders have been deployed to Kano by the Set-Top-Box Manufacturers,  These are all very commendable efforts that will ensure that the good people of Kano State enjoy the benefits of digital television, starting with the 24 channels that are coming onboard in Kano state immediately after this launch.”

  Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa, chairman Set Top Box Manufacturers of Nigeria – (STBMAN), spoke on behalf of the Stakeholders of the DSO implementation  which include the Broadcast Signal Distribution Companies, ( Pinacle/ ITS), the Middleware / platform managers (In view Technology & Remor), the satellite space providers (SES international) and the STBMAN.

According to him, “the fact that we are launching Kano today is a testimony to perseverance and determination. The brand is established as Free tv, and the concept is based on bottom-up rather than top-down. This project is intended to bridge the gap that exists between the common man and the upper crust of society. It is the digital dividend that has been provided to the general public by this administration and let me also emphasis that it is the beginning of the democratization of television and leisure. 

“Because the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has ordered the digital switch-on and switch-off, the stakeholders have a responsibility to transform this into an experience for every Nigerian for them to be able to progress to the next level and be prepared for the day when broadband is available in every home in Nigeria. What we have accomplished on the platform and the Setup Box is a first step into the world of digital television broadcasting. With continuing additions to it , it would provide the Nigerian citizen with every type of television experience imaginable at an affordable price. 

“Let me therefore finish by once again congratulating His excellency, the executive Governor of Kano State, The Honourable Minister, DG NBC, Stakeholders and all those who have dedicated their time and effort to the  achievement of this laudable milestone and, finally, wishing greater accomplishment as the rest of the country is covered by the DSO.”

The occasion which was held at Coronation Hall, Government House, Kano, attracted large numbers of dignitaries including the state Deputy Governor, Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Usman Alhaji, members of Ganduje’s cabinet, members of the state House of Assembly, the Emir of Bichi, Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero who gave royal blessings to DSO in Kano, representatives of the Emirs of Kano, Gaya, Karaye and Rano.

Also in attendance were Eze Ndigbo in Kano, His Highness, Igwe Boniface Ibekwe, as well as traditional rulers of the Edo and Yoruba communities in Kano.

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