NIgeria begins next phase of digital TV switch-over in six states


The federal government has announced the rollout of the digital switch-over in four more states, two years after it was launched in six states.

The switch-over, DSO, is meant to transform the television broadcasting system across the country from the current analogue to digital mode.

The first rollout was launched in Jos (April 30, 2016), Abuja ( December 22, 2016), Ilorin (December 20, 2017), Kaduna (December 22, 2017), Enugu ( February 12, 2018), and Osogbo (February 23, 2018).

Delivered under the brand name, FreeTV, the DSO in this period has translated to an increasing digital television penetration and better quality television service in those states. Other benefits so far include job creation in the creative and set-top box manufacturing and retail sectors; the creation of an information outlet for the government to reach households in Nigeria and a PushVOD service that provides a secure outlet for Nollywood movies distribution to Nigerians.

The acting director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission of Nigeria, Armstrong Idachaba, said under the second phase, the programme will be rolled out in Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Yobe and Gombe States.

“The new timetable will therefore be kick-started with a rollout in Lagos state on 29th of April 2021, Kano state on 3rd June 2021 and Rivers state on 8th July, 2021; on the heels of these states will be switch on of Yobe state on 15th July, 2021 and Gombe state on 12th August 2021,” he said.

“Following this rollout, the signal distributors are expected to within the same period complete the installation of additional transmitters and gap fillers to attain 70% to 80% coverage in the existing six locations in phase 1.”

He said the first Analogue Switch Off is slated to take place on May 28 in Abuja. The remaining phase 1 states of Plateau, Kaduna, Kwara, Enugu, and Osun will follow in June, August, and September 2021.

What this means is that effective from the date of analogue switch-off, television broadcast can only be received with the DSO-approved setup boxes.

Adequate quantities of these boxes will be made available by the authorised set-up box manufacturers for these locations.

He said a two-month period from the release of the DSO timetable has been provided for the public to be prepared for the first switch off in Abuja. Analogue switch-off for the remaining five locations in phase 1 is expected to be completed before the end of 2021.

“Following the commencement of Phase 2 rollout, with switch on in Lagos, Kano and Rivers states between April and July 2021; some 4 to 5 months period will be allowed before each switch off to allow for adequate public preparedness,” he said.

“By the end of first quarter of 2022, additional 10 states would have been switched on under Phase 2 namely, Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Yobe, Gombe, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Oyo, Jigawa and Ebonyi States.

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Phase 3 switch-on commences in December 2021 and ends with final Analogue Switch off (ASO) on December 8.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who had earlier said the DSO will yield $1.1 billion for Nigeria once completed, said Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and the Direct-To-Home (DTH) satellite signal coverage will be used to determine the analogue switch-off time.

“Before we embark on the analogue switch off in any state, we will ensure that the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) signal has covered at least 70% of the population in that state, while the remaining 30% will be covered by Direct-To-Home (DTH) satellite signal. Please note that once the analogue signal is switched off, no one on the system will receive television signals anymore.

“Also, because of the topography of some areas like the Federal Capital Territory, the DTT signal could not effectively cover such areas. In such cases, we will deploy DTH satellite signals to areas that are not covered by DTT signals.

By complementing out DTT deployment with DTH satellite signals, we are ensuring that no one will be left out of the DSO,” he said.

To ensure the affordability of the decoder, the minister said his ministry will reach out to the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment to ensure a reduction in the tariff on the raw materials for the manufacture of the set-up boxes in Nigeria.

“We will aim at zero per cent tariff for the Completely Knocked Down components and not more than 5 per cent tariff for the Semi-Knocked Down component, against the current tariff of 5 per cent for the Completely Knocked Down components and 10 per cent for the Semi-Knocked Down components.

By doing so, we will ensure that the Set Top boxes are within the reach of average Nigerians,” he said.

He also said the federal government will support the channel owners and content providers through the implementation of the audience measurement system to guarantee a sustained stream of revenue from advertising for them to invest in the development of compelling content.