FG targets $1bn from broadcast frequency sale

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The Federal Government plans to earn at least $1bn from the sale of broadcast frequency to be converted to telecommunications services as the nation moves to transit from analogue to digital broadcasting by June 2017.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave this indication in a remark at the 11th edition of Africast, which opened in Abuja on Tuesday.

The conversion of broadcast frequency to telecommunications use is part of the digital dividend, and refers to the spectrum or frequencies that will be released for other purposes when broadcasting organisations migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting.

Digital television consumes just a little fraction of spectrum required for analogue broadcasting, and in the country’s plan for digital television, there will be only three transmission service providers (carriers) that require frequency, while the current broadcast operators will only provide content.

Mohammed said that the nation’s digital economy would grow by $1bn per annum through increase in advertising, Nollywood income and value added services when the nation finally transits to digital broadcasting.

He said, “The Nigerian government can raise a digital dividend of $1bn from the sale of spectrum, thereby ensuring that the whole digital switch over programme is self-funding. The digitisation of broadcasting offers Nigeria a lot of opportunities. The benefits are multifaceted and very far-reaching in the areas of economics, politics, education, entertainment, science and technology and several other ways.

“Many have said that the impact of digitisation on television will be revolutionary and I cannot agree less. With digitisation, the TV industry in Nigeria will be able to raise over $Ibn in one year. Also, digitisation will increase the number of the current 450 TV stations in Nigeria.”

The minister added, “The Federal Government’s idea of Digital Terrestrial Television is one in which there is free digital TV service called FreeTV, based on Freeview rather than requiring pay TV subscriptions. Therefore, the government is providing support to ensure that the FreeTV set-top boxes, also called decoders, are affordable at a retail price of N1,500.

“Nollywood will have a safe and profitable distribution channel direct to 24 million TV homes through the set-top boxes with no piracy risk. This will generate $250m per annum of extra income for Nollywood.”

In a keynote address, the Director-General, National Broadcasting Commission, Mr. Ish’aq Kawu, gave an assurance that the deadline for the digital switch over would be achieved.

According to him, the requirement of 70 per cent local content will create a lot of job opportunities for the nation’s large youth population.

After failing to meet two previous deadlines for the switch over to digital broadcasting, the country, along with other West African countries, set a new deadline of June 17, 2017.

Source: Punch

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