Nigeria launches DTT pilot in Jos

Sunday, May 1st, 2016
Ministry of Information and Culture logo

Text of a World Press Conference by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at the launch of the pilot phase of the Digital Broadcasting switch on in Jos, Plateau State, ​on Saturday April 30th 2016

Let me thank you all for converging here in the city of Jos for the launch of the pilot phase of the Digital Switch Over that will kick-start the digitization process in broadcasting in Nigeria.

Today, history is being made, both in Nigeria as a country and in the city of Jos. What we have dreamt of, imagined, attempted and what even seemed impossible at a stage, is now happening right before our very eyes. Nigeria is transiting from analogue to digital broadcasting. The journey that started in 2004, when the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Council adopted Resolution 1185 on transition from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting, is finally nearing its destination.

Three dates are significant in the history of television in Nigeria: 1959 when the WNBC launched the first TV Station in Africa, 1976, when the first colour TV was switched on, also here in the city of Jos, and this year 2016, when we are transiting from analogue to digital in the same Jos.

This is a monumental event, because with the switch over, we are revolutionizing the broadcast landscape and architecture, as well as the local, state and national economy. More importantly, we are democratising the right to know, the right to knowledge and the right to be informed. This is simply because with what we are doing today, the average Jos person does not need to pay subscription to watch the best news and entertainment from around the world. And this with high quality sound and high resolution picture, which are equal – if not superior – to any in the world.

Compared to yesterday when the average Jos person can only watch five (5) TV channels at best, he can now watch fifteen (15) TV channels, local and international news as well as local and foreign entertainment. Through the information service, he can also get news about government activities without going on the Internet. While watching a particular channel, he can also know the other programmes available on that channel, using the EPG, or Electronic Programme Guide.

In terms of the economy, all licensed Set Top Box manufacturers have been mandated to establish manufacturing companies in Nigeria to produce the boxes locally, after importing the first set of boxes. This will create massive employment and also ensure the transfer of technology for our people. Also, due to availability of many channels, there will be an astronomical increase in the need for content, and this will fire the creative ability of our youths.

The switch over will also become the much-needed panacea to the menace of piracy dogging the music and movie industries. This is because musicians and movie producers will be able to release their works directly to the platform, where they can be purchased, thus wrong-footing those who have been pirating their works. In addition, the transition from analogue to digital will trigger a chain of retailers and installers of the Set Top Boxes, with a massive impact on the local economy.

Gentlemen, when we came about six months ago, we found that everyone seemed to be working at cross purposes and the postponement of the pilot scheme seemed inevitable. But we said NO, especially because we have missed two previous switch over deadlines. We put our shoulder to the wheel and here we are! Now, we are ready to go from city to city until we have covered the entire length and breadth of our country by the June 2017 deadline.

Let me thank the Plateau State Government​ for their support, without which the switch on of this pilot phase would not have been possible. May I also thank all the members of the ‘Digiteam’ as well as the Ministerial Task Force for their uncommon commitment, selflessness and patriotism.

We call on the local and state governments to help us by buying the boxes – which the Federal Government has highly subsidized – for their citizens. The Federal Government is also giving out, free of charge, the 200,000 boxes for this pilot phase. And the Plateau State Government has agreed to buy 300,000 boxes for their citizens. We are targeting 30 million viewers across the country, which will make Nigeria the biggest Free TV market in the world. Congratulations to everyone who has been part of this epoch-making process.

I thank you all for listening and I will now take your questions​.