AIT plans 40 channels, pay TV after going public

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Daar Communications, promoters of Africa Independent Television and Ray Power Radio Station is set to introduce pay TV services, go fully digital and expand its services, coming on the heels of its recently fully subscribed initial public offer (IPO).
Raymond Dokpesi, chairman Daar Communications disclosed this recently as he unveiled developments which would follow the company's going public.

He said ;"We will come out with a multi-channel pay TV facility and all our stations across the country will go from analogue to full digital.

"The idea is that you should also be able to watch television on your mobile phones and your laptop and we have all the equipment for that.

"We plan to build a film village in Lagos to enhance the production of movies for Daar consumption and for other television outfits, so that Nigeria can come to par in that regard with any country in the world. Next year is the 50th anniversary of TV broadcasting in Nigeria. We want to play our small role in ensuring that Nigeria gets back her past glory in the area of broadcast.

"For the multi-channel, we are looking at the test transmission on August 1, this year and the commercial transmission on September 1, and every item we need is already on the ground.

"We are starting with 40 channels. It is the first time in Africa that you will see transmission at this level in high definition. Viewers will see broadcasting at a new level.

We are engaging more hands, engaging in training and exposing people to new technologies.

"We are going from the present eight stations to 24 stations. That means we have 16 new stations coming up. Our Abuja station is already 100 percent digital while the Lagos station is about 60 percent digital and is being upgraded. We are running out feed to Asia, Europe, USA and all of Africa.

"The major challenge for Nigerian broadcasting in transmitting from analogue to digital will be in the area of manpower. The engineers graduating here generally don't have hands-on digital experience. It is a major challenge and we have to tackle it. We have some expatriates here and some of our people are learning on the job while others have gone for training abroad and more will be going.

"All the facets and sub division in the broadcast chain need complete retraining. In the past, you had different people handling audio, video and lighting etc, today these things are handled by the same person because of the advancement of technology. We want to breed video journalists right now.

"We are headhunting for quality staff locally and internationally.

We want to be able to pomote and defend the interests of African people and portray their culture

"We will send about 25 people to BOP TV in the UK for training for between three and six months.

There are two institutions for training in this industry in Nigeria. They are the TV College in Jos and the FRCN Training School in Lagos. Industry operators will have to come together to contribute to the upgrading of these institutions. This will be much cheaper and more effective than having everybody setting up his own training institution. We can bring in people from abroad to assist in the training.

The way that things are going in the industry, especially with regard to technology, I foresee that there will be need for a lot of collaboration in the industry and I believe we will see some mergers.

"Our main emphasis will be on entertainment. You will see movies from Hollywood, Nollywood and Bollywood. We are also looking at children and teens. We will have quality content that will appeal them.

"All the 32 foreign channels that we are bringing are highly rated. We will also be strong on sports and news. We have been acquiring a lot of sporting rights. We have a lot of foreign documentaries and we are trying to build up a lot of documentaries on Nigeria and West-Africa, some of them are historical documentaries.

AIT News will be 24 hours news with correspondents in South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, Senegal, the USA, UK.

Dokpesi observed that the full subscription of the Daar public offer was evidence of the confidence which Nigerians have in the company and appreciation of Nigerians for the sacrifice which the company had made on their behalf

He added that the company now belonged to the Nigerian people and it hat it would be properly and professionally managed on their behalf.