Nigeria to offer 30 digital channels

Nigeria’s Broadcasting Commission (NBC), despite a high degree of uncertainty as to when it will switch off its analogue transmissions, is preparing 30 channels for its Free TV digital bouquet.

Rotimi Salami, General Manager of Integrated Digital Services (ITS), talking to Nigeria’s Guardian newspaper, explained that ITS was already working with pay-TV operator StarTimes Group, and that the government was seeking to build out its digital transmission multiplexes and where 30 digital channels on Free TV would provide the start of the DTT system.

Salami said that there should be 20 national channels, six local and four regional channels, and that the NBC was in discussion with interested parties.

There would be considerable job opportunities, he said. “As the network expands, engineers and computer experts would be engaged to man the system. Content creation would increase necessitation opening for actors, producers, creative writer to fill the now available platform. Apps are to be developed for use on the Set Top Boxes, marketing of these STBs too are revenue generating concerns. Similarly, as the networking optimises, other value-added services would be explored.”

Conax and Nagra are working with the authorities on encryption. StarTimes already had some 4 million Conax decoders in use on its pay-TV system.

“Knowing Nigerians, our quest for things trending is almost insatiable,” Salami told The Guardian. “There is so much business for the pay-TV operators to thrive. Contents would be the draw and creating awareness would also be key, for example, StarTimes acquired rights to Bundesliga, Ligue1, Eredivisie ETC, but awareness of the presence of these properties is rather poor. Subscribers on their satellite services who are football fans are entertained round the clock on about six sport channels. The list is limitless and the cost is a bargain. Awareness is key for pay-TV the market is huge. They have the facilities and platform to create this awareness unlike in the Free TV. They are in charge of their destiny.”

“Nationwide coverage for StarTimes had already been achieved via their [satellite] operations. While I can’t speak for StarTimes, what I believe you have in mind is their DTT operations. The Free TV project will dovetail into total nationwide DTT network operations for both the National Television Authority’s Star network and the ITS given our strategic alliance.”

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