HMIC, Lai Mohammed’s speech at the launch of Digital Switch Over in Kaduna on Friday, December 22

L-R: Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation, Senator Suleiman Adokwe, at the official launch of the Digital Switch Over in Kaduna on Friday.

Good morning distinguished ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be here for the digital television rollout in Kaduna State, about 48 hours after the rollout in Ilorin, Kwara State.

2.  At the launch of the Digital Switch-Over (DSO) in Ilorin on Wednesday, I did say that we are now back on track, and that we will henceforth embark on a rapid rollout of digital television across the country. The fact that we are here today confirms the veracity of that statement.

3.  Let me sincerely commend all the stakeholders who are working round the clock to ensure the success of the transition from analogue to digital television across the country. Starting in Jos, Plateau State, in April 2016, the DSO train has now transversed Abuja, Ilorin and now Kaduna, its latest stop.

4.  The National Broadcasting Commission, the Signal Distributors, the Set Top Box manufacturers, the Digiteam and indeed all stakeholders are pulling all the stops to ensure that the DSO train continues unimpeded on its journey across the country. Thank you all.

5.   Last Wednesday, it was the turn of the Integrated Television Services (ITS) to bring to reality the launch of the DSO in Ilorin. Today, it is the turn of Pinnacle Communications in Kaduna. Permit me, therefore, to congratulate Pinnacle Communications and its Chairman, Sir Lucky Omoluwa, on another significant milestone in the rebuildingof our television story.

6.  Within the next few weeks, we will be rolling out in many more states as we seek to take the digital television experience to all the six geo-political zones. We now have our two Signal Distributors in full operation mode, our aggregation platform for channels, FreeTV, is fast becoming a household name, our Set-Top-Box suppliers have started local production and we now have almost a million boxes supplied into the value chain.

7.  With the DSO train now on cruise control, we are turning our focus to the crux of the matter, which is content production that will help to bolster our economy. By content here I refer to TV shows, sitcoms, documentaries, music videos, drama series, talent and reality shows etc. The challenge before us is to ensure that this becomes a profitable industry for our creative talent, entrepreneurs, advertising agencies, TV channels and Digital distributors.

8.   I have always said that we have so many untold stories and it is evident from the demographics of our population that we have a large young workforce, who happen to be those with the highest propensity to work and consume content.

9.   With the Digital Switch Over, there will be over 200 channels and probably over a thousand organised production outfits looking to feed them with content. All these will require infrastructure investment, in production destinations, with studios, graphic and sound hubs etc. At the end of it all, we would have created millions of jobs.

10.  We have clearly identified that the funding will have to come from Advertising and Pay services. So it is crucial that we organise this properly and very fast too. No one will invest in this sector if there is no way of guaranteeing a return for their investment. We must thus ensure there is transparency, accountability and a level playing field.

11. There is the urgent need to grow the Advertising industry, since that is the oil needed to make these ‘Free TV’ environment thrive, create rewards for the producers, great content for the consumer and pay the Signal Distributors.
Thankfully, the Advertising industry also sits under our Ministry and our research into where the advertising money is has revealed certain practices that are inimical to the growth of the sector. We will do all that is necessary to correct the distortions in the Advertising industry.

12.  On the Pay Television side, we have to completely open up the market so we can have more competitive pricing in order to reach more homes and ultimately increase the revenues that are able to fund more local investment. Working with the National Assembly, we will look into our laws to see where monopolies that concentrate the profits in a few pockets can be dismantled, while our laws will be brought in line with international best practices in countries like the U.S., U.K., India, Singapore, Turkey etc.

13.   At the end of the day, the ordinary Nigerian must reap the benefits of the digital television without having to break the bank. This is why we are striving to ensure that we make a success of the analogue to digital transition. We must not and cannot afford to fail. I therefore appeal to all stakeholders to ensure that all hands are on deck as we bring digital television to all Nigerians.

14.   Once again, I congratulate all those that have made this happen, and I thank you all for your kind