President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday declared that the federal government is fully committed to the planned digitalization of the nation’s broadcasting system, insisting that the deadline of June 2017 for Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Nigeria remains sacrosanct.
The President, who stated this while performing the official launching of the Abuja digital switch over on Thursday, appealed to all states and local governments to take full advantage of the benefits accruable and be actively involved in the project.
President Buhari, who spoke through Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, declared that “we are now going into full gear to launch across the rest of the country and to commence switch off.
“Let me restate for emphasis, that this government is irreversibly committed to meeting the June 2017 deadline for the switchover in the West African sub-region and also to the roll-out of the DSO in all the states of the federation.
“The DSO train that took off in Jos has now arrived in Abuja, from where it is set to move to other parts of the country unhindered.”
The President commended Pinnacle Communications for doing a great job, even as he described them as “great elephant in broadcasting.”
Said he, “Before we took the decision to appoint Pinnacle Communications as the Signal Distributor for Abuja, this ground we are standing on today was all trees and bushes. But in the space of just three months, this company has proven that indeed in Nigeria, we have the capacity and zeal to make progress for our country. Pinnacle Communications Limited has invested heavily in this project and we commend them for their strong faith in Nigeria.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Mohammed, while also speaking at the occasion, reiterated the high quality of the service that Pinnacle, the signal distributor has put up.
According to him, our objective is not just to move customers and Nigerians from analogue to digital in a simple technical sense, but to ensure a total overhaul of the whole Television watching experience and the economy around it.
“The core principles of democracy are equality, common participation, total access to information for all citizens, economic empowerment of all participants in the industries and a level playing feed for Nigerian companies and entrepreneurs to build viable businesses. By these, we are expecting to help diversify our economy by properly exploiting our great talent and creative human and natural resources which we strongly believe are second to none in Africa.
“There are a number of initiatives that we are focusing on in order to achieve a credible and effective development of our TV and Production industries and to successfully develop the digital economy.”
The Minister stressed the need of Consumer Proposition that is all encompassing which most Nigerians never had access to as Free and easy access to Government and Public information, Current Affairs and News available through the middleware on the boxes, a world class Electronic Program Guide that will make Television viewing an unbeatable experience and Creating tens of thousands of jobs through Technical, Production and Manufacturing opportunities.
“We are going to forbid all forms of monopoly so that all Nigerians can get access to all types of content without having to expend money on multiple devices. With the Set-top box you are getting your Free-to-Air channels, you must be allowed to pay for and buy any and every channel allowed to be broadcast in the country. Media pluralism is a cornerstone of democracy and this fact should be reflected in the plurality of independent and autonomous media and in diversity, of media content”, he said.
Speaking earlier, the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Is’haq Moddibbo Kawu, said from inception, he was determined to ensure that the switch over process was achieved.
“I was determined to ensure that we achieved a switchover process that was inclusive and rancor-free. This was particularly important, because at the point that I took over, one of the most significant players in the digitization process was in a very bitter dispute with the NBC. They were in court and while significant developments were taking place, the digitization process was dogged by that huge elephant in the room. We set out to convince them to go out of court and return to the process that they had labored hard for, and for which they were the single most important financial contributor.”
A broadcast consultant with the Pinnacle Broadcast Limited, Yomi Bolarinwa, who spoke for the company, declared that the company achieved the success in less than three months.