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Minister Calls for Institutionalized Stakeholders’ Meeting for Digital Switch over Success

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called for the institutionalization of regular meetings of the stakeholders in the Digital Switch Over (DSO) with a view to ensuring that Nigeria meets the June 2017 deadline for migrating from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting.

The Minister made the call in Abuja when he hosted some executive members of the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON).

“Our challenge is how we meet the 2017 June deadline and this is why this stakeholders’ meeting becomes very important. It’s not going to be a one-off meeting, I think we must meet regularly and frequently between now and June so that we will be able to meet the deadline,” he said

Alhaji Mohammed said as part of the creative solutions adopted to ensure the success of the DSO, the stakeholders have agreed to review the inherited Business Model to give new and clear direction on the role of each stakeholder in the Digital Regime.

“At our various meetings, we have agreed and resolved that the Business Model we inherited must be changed and we have adopted a new Business Model now that will ensure that the Signal Distributors will relate directly with the content providers. Whoever is an intermediary or providing solution will work with the two groups, that is the Content Provider and the Signal Distributors,” the Minister said.

He clarified that the adoption of the new Business Model for the DSO does not mean the cancellation or review of the contract of the Content Aggregator or the Middleware Provider, but the review of the roles they are expected to perform to ensure a seamless digital broadcasting platform as obtained in other climes.

Alhaji Mohammed equally hinted that discussions are ongoing on how PayTV and Freeview will earn revenues, as against the current practice in which PayTV makes money from both subscription and advertisement, whereas Freeview does not collect subscription fees.

“Today it will appear that the PayView is making money from both sides – they are making money from subscription and at the same time most of the lucrative adverts are going to them. This is one area we need to look into, within the context of the law,” he said

The Minister said the era of importation of Set Top Boxes are over, noting that at least three licensed Set-Top-Box companies have started producing the boxes locally, thus creating jobs

In his remarks, the Chairman of BON, Mr. John Momoh, called for the enactment of a legal framework to stipulate and enforce the role of each stakeholders in the DSO to ensure that Nigerians and other players in the sector are not shortchanged.

He also suggested the review of the sections of the Constitution on the collection of TV/Radio Licence fees, saying instead of the local governments collecting the fees, NBC should be empowered to handle the collection to fund the operations of public broadcasters in line with global best practices.

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