Nigerian broadcasting officials have thrown the switch in Jos, capital of Plateau State in the centre of Nigeria, to start free digital TV transmissions, and the eventual end of analogue broadcasting in the region. Nigeria will complete the state-by-state process in June 2017.
Some 200,000 free digital converter boxes have already been distributed in the region. Four local electronics companies had already established production facilities to produce more set-top boxes. The plan is to see these factories also start selling digi-boxes to other African countries. The system is currently transmitting 15 video and audio channels.
The Deputy Chairman of Cable Channels Nigeria Ltd (CCNL), Mohammadu Bawa, speaking to guests said that while the UK had some 10 million homes viewing free digital TV, and Australia about 13 million, Nigeria would have at least 30 million by June next year.
He said the free TV broadcast platform would offer home entertainment and educative channels to viewer through the DTT and Digital Satellite (DSAT) which would come on board at a later date.
“The responsibilities of the free TV included platform and contents management, consumer, audience measurement, signal contribution, branding and promotion and other services.
In addition to the free to air channels, he said the digital switch-over would help in the development of more movie and music channels.
Bawa added that there would be electronic programming guide to viewers on what were available for viewing and other public information.
“The free TV will comprise of existing national content and local free to air channels, selected thematic channels and selected international free to air channels,’’ he said.
He said the Federal Government through the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had assigned the distribution of Free-Top Boxes to CCNL.