Speech by HMIC, Alh. Lai Mohammed at the Launch of DSO in Lagos



Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome to this epoch-making event, which is the Digital Switch Over (DSO) of Lagos State. Please don’t be confused by the technical jargon. DSO simply means the switch-on of digital television in Lagos State.

2. Please permit me to thank His Excellency, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the entire government and people of Lagos State for their cooperation and support, which have made today’s event a reality. May I also 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. They include the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Digiteam, Broadcast Signal Distributors, Set-Top-Box Manufacturers, the Middleware providers –
Inview and Renmore -, Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), creative content producers and all members of the Ministerial Task Force on DSO, which I personally chair.

3. The two signals distributors, Integrated Television Services (ITS) and Pinnacle, have been working assiduously to enable the completion of this project across the country. In particular, I want to congratulate ITS for making the digital switch-on of Lagos State possible.

4. Today’s event marks the beginning of the second phase of the DSO rollout. It is coming a day before the fifth anniversary of the launch of the pilot programme of the DSO in Jos, Plateau State, on 30 April 2016. After the pilot, the digital television train arrived in the Federal Capital Territory on Dec. 22nd 2016; Kwara State on Dec. 20 2017; Kaduna State on Dec. 22nd 2017; Enugu State on February 12th 2018 and Osun State on February, 23rd 2018.

5. Though it took the digital television train over three years to arrive in Lagos State, from its last stop in Osun State, the train is now ready to move faster. The DSO train has now changed from narrow gauge to standard gauge, meaning it will move faster to cover 13 states across the country this year alone in the second phase of the DSO rollout, which begins today.

6. From Lagos, the DSO train heads to Kano State on June 3rd; Rivers on July 8th; Yobe on July 15th; Gombe on August 12th; Imo on August 24th; Akwa Ibom on August 31st; Oyo on September 9th; Jigawa on September 23rd; Ebonyi on October 17th; Katsina on October 21st; Anambra on November 4th and Delta on November 18th. This may look like a daunting task. Indeed, it is. But the fact that we are here in Lagos today is a testimony to our resilience and determination to ensure the success of the transition from analogue to digital television across the country.

7. Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we acknowledge the power and the extensive reach of modern broadcasting, which makes it a veritable tool for national development. The democratization of digital television in Nigeria, which is what DSO is about, fits into the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari for a digital economy in the country. Mr. President’s vision is that of national technological development driven by Nigeria’s very vibrant and creative young people; who are among the most dynamic in Africa and indeed the world.

8. The switch-on of Lagos is unique and epochal, because it marks the first time that the DSO project would be beaming 60 choice channels to television households. This is not by accident. Lagos is Nigeria’s creative hub, hence it is important to harness the creative talents that abound in the state through this project. Also, the DSO provides us with a great platform to key into the Lagos Smart City Project, which seeks to use technology to enhance service delivery in all spheres of life. The DSO is not just about high fidelity sound and picture, it is about creating jobs, especially for our teeming youth, stimulating local content and empowering channel owners.

9. While the DSO television platform, branded as FreeTV, offers its viewers about 60 digital channels, including sports, music, movies,
and news, it also provides Value Added Services, such as:
– Enforcement & Collection of TV Licenses
– Premium PayTV channels
– Push Video on Demand
– Information Services
– Audience Measurement.
The project will therefore enhance the Lagos Smart City Project while revolutionizing television viewing for the more than 5 million TV households in the state. In addition, a large number of the 1 million jobs to be created by the DSO project in the next three years will come from Lagos. Since FreeTV helps to provide Value Added Services, the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 LCDAs in Lagos State will be supported in the collection of Television & Radio Licenses from residents. With FreeTV’s push system for information services, the FreeTV platform can be used to broadcast information on Lagos State activities to all viewers. It will also help Advertisers in Lagos to target which programmes and channels are
being watched by the audience, while Lagosians can also cash in on the Push Video-on-Demand capability of the FreeTV platform to access premium blockbuster Nollywood movies from the comfort of their homes.

10. Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, FreeTV will be propelled largely by advertising revenue. Again, Lagos State stands out in this regard. With 70% of the nation’s advertisement revenue and over 5 million TV households, in addition to being the country’s creative hub, there is no doubt that Lagos is one of the engines of the DSO project

11. As we switch-on digital television in Lagos State, we have over 1 million Set-Top-Boxes ready. The good news is that the Set-Top-Boxes are locally manufactured, hence more boxes are getting set to be released by the factories located across the country.

12. In accordance with our set timeline, we are optimistic that by December 7th, 2022, we will complete the switch-off of analogue broadcasting on the terrestrial television platform in Nigeria. That presents a huge logistic and financial challenge, especially against the background of the current economic climate in the country. But we are determined to succeed.

13. 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. In the new digital ecosystem, 70 per cent of content on 24-hour television would be local. These will contain an assembly of TV shows, sitcoms, documentaries, music videos, drama series, talent and reality shows, sports, 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.

14. Let me conclude by saying that 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 what we have set out to achieve. Once a TV household acquires the Set-Top-Box and pays the once-a-year access fee, which is a token, it’s free viewing all the way. Our FreeTV brand is not a fluke. There is no monthly subscription payment. This enables millions of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay the rising subscription fees being charged by the Pay TV platforms to enjoy the benefit of digital television.

15. On this note, Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I want to once again welcome you to this event, and also thank you for your kind attention.