By Tunde Oguntola, Abuja
The federal government has promised to assist the Republic of Niger to successfully transit from analogue to digital broadcasting under the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project.
The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the assurance yesterday in Abuja when he hosted the visiting Minister of Communication of Niger, Madam Sani Koubra.
He said Nigeria would make available to Niger the legal framework for its DSO project, as well as its expertise in the area of signal distribution, Set-Top-Box (STB) manufacturing and content production. The Minister said the Nigerian government has the political will to make the DSO a success story for the benefit of all Nigerians and to the ECOWAS Community in the areas of the application of the Digital Dividends, despite the challenges.
He listed the challenges facing the DSO as including the availability and cost of STBs and the Content of Broadcast.
According to him, “A major challenge to the DSO is the availability and cost of STBs. Even when you achieve a Nationwide Signal Coverage, you cannot shut down the Analogue Transmitters until all the TV Homes have access to STBs. So far, the government has had to subsidise STB acquisition in the Roll-out.
“This is not sustainable for the larger population of the country. So we are currently exploring avenues to make the retail cost of STBs affordable to the general public without compromising the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Minimum Standard. Subsidy in one form or the other will then be extended to those below the poverty line.
“Because of digitisation, we now have opportunity for many more channels of programming. When all the technology is in place what are you going to feed your public through all these available channels? The easiest way to colonize the minds of our people is via the Mass Media. If we do not seriously address the issue of Compelling Indigenous Content, we will be exposing our population to further colonisation.’’