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Broadcast digitization: FG promises 30 free-to- air channels

By The Citizen

The Information minister, Lai Mohammed, says the government will offer 30 free-to-air channels by June next year, launching stiffer competition for paid TV channels.

Mohammed has been in Jos on two days of working visit to monitor progress on the ongoing digital switch-over from analogue broadcast transmission.

He said Nigerians will enjoy 'free-to-air services' once the digitization project is implemented to completion at the deadline of June 2017.

Broadcast digitization, a policy of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), will afford Nigerians the opportunity to watch as many channels as possible in their homes without the paid digital satellite services from commercial ventures like DStv and other service providers.

June, 2017 is the new deadline set by the ITU for nations to go digital, in what will not only improve the communication and media industry, but will also bring a revolution in advertising, content producing and film making.

The federal government has set April this year as the date for the start up of the race to meet the deadline on 2017, in what set the minister on a visit to Jos, which was selected as the pilot city for the digitization on account of its history in broadcast media, and being where colour TV transmission was aired, 40 years back.

'Jos is one city that has a confluence of regional, national network and also private channels and that is why we are starting our pilot scheme in Jos in April,' the minister, who was accompanied by heads of various agencies under his ministry, and implementing partners in the project, said further during a courtesy visit on both Governor Simon Lalong, in Government House.

'We have 15 channels for the pilot scheme programme. I am here today to meet with all the stakeholders in this project, like the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), representatives of the digital team and other consultants.'

The minister said that the visit was to monitor progress on the work and as well as the impediments that might hinder meeting the April deadline.

He said the project, on implementation will boost not just quality visual and audio broadcasting, but will be a job spinner, with the capacity to provide hundreds of thousands of direct jobs to Nigerian youths, especially computer savvies.

'Over 5, 000 direct jobs for engineers, another 15, 000 for technicians, hundreds of thousands of jobs for people who will become retailers and vendors in all the local governments of the federation,' Mohammed said. - Daily Trust.