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Nigeria targets $1bn annual digital dividend

Nigeria’s Federal Government has said it could potentially raise a digital dividend of $1 billion from the sale of spectrum as it rolls out digitisation of broadcasting in the country.

Speaking at the opening of Africast 2016 in Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said that digitisation of broadcasting offered the country a lot of opportunities. “The benefits are multifaceted and very far-reaching in the areas of economics, politics, education, entertainment, science and technology and several other ways. Many have said that the impact of digitisation on television will be revolutionary,” he declared. “With digitisation, the TV industry in Nigeria will be able to raise over 1 billion dollars in one year. Also, digitisation will increase the number of the current 450 TV stations in Nigeria,” he advised.

Benefits of digitisation meant that Nigerian viewers would get a “great free TV service with up to 30 channels laden with sports, news, documentaries and other programme types for only N1500. Viewers should also be able to receive all pay-TV content through one STB, if they so desire,” he explained.

“Nollywood will have a safe and profitable distribution channel direct to 24 million TV homes through the set-top boxes with no piracy risk. This will generate $250 million per annum of extra income for Nollywood,” he predicted. “So far, the Federal Government has shown commitment to meeting the new deadline of June 2017 for the whole country to transit from analogue to digital broadcasting.”

The Minister said that to ensure that the signals of various channel owners are compressed into multiplexes and well packaged before transmission to consumers, and to protect the boxes from hacking and piracy, the Federal Government had engaged middleware operator, Inview Nigeria limited.

“Another indigenous company, Cable Channels Nigeria Limited (CCNL), is managing the marketing and aggregation of the channels on behalf of the content owners and the signal distributors,” he advised.

“In line with the DSO White Paper, which makes a provision for the reservation of a licence for an independent signal distribution operator to be created out of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), a company known as Independent Television Services (ITS) Limited has been created. These transmission companies will no doubt engage young Nigerian engineers, thus creating job opportunities for thousands of Nigerian engineers.”

According to the Minister, this was in line with the Federal Government’s deliberate regulatory policy measures to indigenise the entire management and operational structure of the DSO for the future development of the Nigerian broadcast industry.

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