Remarks by the HMIC, Alh. Lai Mohammed during Advocacy visit to Lagos State Gov, Babajide Sanwo-Olu by the Ministerial Task Force on #DSO

Please permit me to most sincerely thank His Excellency, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for agreeing to host us, members of the Ministerial Task Force on the Digital Switch over (DS0), today.
This courtesy visit presents us with a great opportunity to brief His Excellency on the DSO as well as our planned rollout in Lagos State on April 29th.

2. What is Digital Switch Over? The Digital Switch Over, or DSO, is the process of transitioning from analogue to digital television
broadcasting. The decision to transition from analogue to digital television followed a treaty agreement that was signed at the Regional Radio communication Conference (RRC-06) in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16 2016 to usher in ‘all-digital’ terrestrial broadcast services for sound and television by a target date of 17 June 2015. This is aimed at creating a more equitable, just and people-centered Information Society, which would connect underserved populations and remote communities, thereby bridging the digital divide.

3. Analogue broadcasting provides a limited choice of programming due to restricted bandwidth, and it is no longer efficient technology. The same transmission channel used to broadcast a single analogue program could carry a multiplex of up to 20 digital programmes of equivalent quality. And that explains why the DSO television platform, branded as FreeTV, offers its viewers about 60 digital channels, including sports, music, movies, and news. FreeTVis available nationwide on both Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Direct To Home (DTH) transmission. In addition to broadcast services, FreeTV also provides Value Added Services, such as:
– Enforcement & Collection of TV Licenses
– Premium PayTV channels
– Push Video on Demand
– Information Services
– Audience Measurement.
4. Your Excellency, we launched the DSO rollout in Jos, Plateau State, on April 30th 2016. Since then we have rolled out in four more states – Kwara, Kaduna, Enugu and Osun – and the Federal Capital Territory, bringing the total to five states and the FCT. We are now moving rapidly to cover the remaining 31 states. We are kick-starting the new rollout here in Lagos state on April 29th 2021. Kano state follows on June 3rd 2021, Rivers state on July 8th 2021. Yobe state on July 15th 2021 and Gombe state on August 12th 2021, with more states slated thereafter.

5. The rollout in Lagos reflects our decision to take the DSO to commercial centres across the country. With a population of over 20 million, and projected TV Households of over 5 million, the launch of FreeTV in Lagos State will be a critical milestone for the DSO and for Nigeria’s broadcast & creative industry.

6. The DSO is not just about high fidelity sound and picture, it is about creating jobs, especially for our teeming youth, stimulating
local content and empowering channel owners. In the next three years, the DSO is capable of creating 1 million jobs, in the manufacturing of Set Top Box or Decoder manufacturing; TV Production; Film Production, Distribution (supply of STBs, TVs and Dongles for the internet); as well as TV and Online Advertising.

7. Lagos State, which is the hub of the Creative Industry, will take a large share of the 1 million jobs to be created. Since FreeTV helps
to provide Value Added Services, the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 LCDAs in Lagos State will be supported in the collection of Television & Radio Licenses from residents. With FreeTV’s push system for information services, the FreeTV platform can be used to broadcast information on Lagos State activities to all viewers. Current users of this push system for information services include the Federal Ministry of Information & Culture, the National Broadcasting Commission, the State House and the Nigerian Police. Also, the Audience Measurement capability of the FreeTV platform will help Advertisers in Lagos to target which programmes and channels are being watched by the audience. Lagosians can also cash in on the Push Video-on-Demand capability of the FreeTV platform to access premium blockbuster Nollywood movies from the comfort of their homes.

8. Your Excellency, a major advantage of the DSO is that viewers will not pay subscription fees. Once they have acquired the Set Top Box and pay the once-a-year access fee, which is a token, it’s free viewing all the way. Millions of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay the rising subscription fees being charged by the Pay TV platforms can now enjoy the benefit of digital television. This is the meaning of bridging the digital divide.

9. This brings me to the relevance of the DSO to the Lagos Smart City Project and the Lagos Broadband initiative. Everywhere in the world, video consumption has been the key driver for majority of homes acquiring Broadband. And the commercialization of Broadband requires people/home to consume the large pipes of data, which ONLY video can do. Most other uses don’t require much data. FreeTV and the DSO can provide the best of local content to drive purchase of last mile home data. And also the home equipment used for the home can be the FreeTV boxes which already have the data port to bring data to the home. Finally, the DSO focuses on the building of the home devices/STB’s locally which should also be the end user for Lagos Broadband initiative, and Lagos should therefore get involved.

10. In order to carry all the residents of Lagos along in the successful launch of the DSO, I want to request Your Excellency to direct the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) to provide out-of-home boards, lamp post and other publicity support for the DSO launch for at least three months.

11. On this note, Your Excellency, I want to once again thank you for taking the time to receive us today. We look forward to a successful rollout of the DSO in Lagos on April 29th.And I thank you all for your kind attention.