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FG transfers Digital Switch Over project to private sector

The Federal government has cried out that lack of funds is hindering its efforts at commencing the process of switching over completely to digital broadcasting.
The exercise is mostly important to government because it will free up spectrum for resale to telecom companies who will use it for data activities.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made this known on at a meeting with stakeholders in the DSO Project in Abuja.

He regretted that unavailability of funds is mitigating government’s effort to deliver the benefits of Digital Television and stimulate Nigeria’s digital economy, and therefore the wisest thing would be to hand the project over to private sector players.
The minister said his Ministry had prioritise the DSO project because of the perceived benefits to the post-Covid economy and also the fortunes it holds for the Creative Industry.

Mohammed said with the planned settlement of outstanding debts, the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in broadcasting will transit to a private-sector-driven enterprise to make it sustainable.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed
(second left); Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information
and Culture, Deaconess Grace Isu-Gekpe (second right); Acting DG of
the National Broadcasting Commission, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba (right)
and the Chairman of DigiTeam Nigeria, Engr. Edward Amana at a meeting
of DSO stakeholders in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said: “While looking for funds to pay outstanding debts and re-start the process, I want to put it on record here that we will be pursuing a full private-sector-driven DSO and there will be no more subsidies, either for Set Top Boxes or for Signal carriage. This process must be self-sustaining.

”I am working with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning as well as the Federal Executive Council as part of efforts to secure the funds to re-start the process, which has been stalled since the last rollout in Osogbo, Osun State, in 2018.

”Lack of funds has hindered the commencement of the process of Analogue Switch Off, which will in turn free up spectrum for resale, deliver the benefits of Digital Television and stimulate Nigeria’s digital economy. The Ministry is prioritizing the DSO project because it is critical to the post-Covid prosperity of the Creative Industry.”

Meanwhile, the Minister further informed that the ministry has started 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.

He charged the meeting to come up with a creative strategy of implementing the DSO with an expressed commitment to continue with the
process until every state has been covered.”

“Going forward, the bottom line is that we need to think out of the box if we are to complete this process. Nigerians have waited far too long to enjoy the benefits of Digital Television.
The Analogue to Digital Switch Over must not be delayed any longer than absolutely necessary,” the Minister said.

Recall that the DSO, was launched in Jos, Plateau State, on April 30th 2016, and has so far rolled out in Abuja, Kaduna, Ilorin, Enugu and Osogbo and now waiting for other states.

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