By Benjamin Omoike
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, says his administration will support the Digital Switch Over (DSO), being embarked by the country, saying it would enhance job creation and content development.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who acknowledged that the DSO would be of immense benefits to residents said Lagos State will be providing publicity support for the rollout.
Speaking at the weekend, when the Ministerial Taskforce of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture on Digital Switch Over led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, paid him a courtesy visit at the Lagos House, Marina, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the DSO will provide job opportunities for youths and many businesses, especially those in the entertainment and tourism industry.
He said the DSO will also provide opportunity for government to use the content to inform and engage the citizens as well as bring governance closer to the people.
Governor Sanwo-Olu who advised the Ministerial Taskforce on the Digital Switch Over to make the FreeTV box and after sale support easily accessible, said making the FreeTV Set Top Box a one-off payment with a yearly renewal, will provide opportunity for millions of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay the subscription fees being charged by the PayTV platforms to enjoy the benefit of digital television.
He said: “The movement from analogue set up that we currently have to digital is apt and it speaks to reality of what we have today. Everywhere in the world, technology is now a fundamental and critical deliverable of government. It presents an opportunity for citizens to have access to local, national and international space.
“As a forward looking state, we are in partnership and we see it as bringing the future to our citizens, so we do not have a problem with it at all. Even for us as a state, we have been developing our metropolitan fiber optics to provide fiber connectivity as one of the solutions for our citizens to have access to cheaper data.
“We will support the DSO. We want Lagos to continue to set the pace for the nation. We will help our people to be exposed to modern and international best practices. We will be willing to work with you and ensure that we deliver jointly on April 29.”
Speaking earlier, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the proposed rollout in Lagos would be a critical milestone for the DSO and the creative industry as over one million jobs would be provided nationwide.
He said with the FreeTV of the DSO, Nigerians would have opportunities to watch over 60 channels with great contents at a cheaper rate and without subscription to pay TV.
Mohammed who presented Governor Sanwo-Olu with the Set Top Box for the DSO said it would also enable government to get the data of every household with television, thereby making the collection of television and radio licenses easier, adding that the Nigerian Broadcasting Code (NBC) had been amended to make provisions for the switch over from analogue to digital.
The Minister of Information and Culture also disclosed that six months after the rollout of the DSO in Lagos, the NBC would ask television stations to shut down their analog broadcast equipment, thereby making more spectrum available for data and other telecommunication services.
Mohammed who noted that the DSO is relevant to the Lagos Smart City Project and the Lagos Broadband initiative, urged Governor Sanwo-Olu to direct the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) to provide out-of-home boards, lamp post and other publicity support for the DSO launch for at least three months.
He said: “The rollout in Lagos reflects our decision to take the DSO to commercial centres across the country. With a population of over 20 million, and projected TV Households of over five million, the launch of FreeTV in Lagos State will be a critical milestone for the DSO and for Nigeria’s broadcast and creative industry.
“Lagos State, which is the hub of the Creative Industry, will take a large share of the 1 million jobs to be created. 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 and 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.
“A major advantage of the DSO is that viewers will not pay subscription fees. Once they have acquired the Set Top Box and pay the once-a-year access fee, which is a token, it is free viewing all the way. Millions of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay the rising subscription fees being charged by the PayTV platforms can now enjoy the benefits of digital television. This is the meaning of bridging the digital divide.”