Lai Mohammed at the launch of FreeTV in Lagos

Lai Mohammed at the launch of FreeTV in Lagos

By Rotimi Ijikanmi

Television owners in Lagos will now have access to as many as 60 channels on the FreeTV launched by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed under the Digital Switch Over (DSO) programme.

Mohammed said more than one million Set-Top-Boxes, the decoder for the FreeTv, were on ground for the Lagos launch, adding that the boxes would be made available and affordable.

However, a token access fee will be paid on acquisition of the set-top-boxes. There is no monthly subscription payment.

“This enables millions of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay the rising subscription fees being charged by the Pay TV platforms to enjoy the benefit of digital television”, said Mohammed.

The minister, who stated this on Thursday at the inauguration of DSO – transition from analogue to digital terrestrial television in Lagos, assured that the process would be speedy across the country.

The Lagos inauguration marks the beginning of the second phase of the DSO rollout, which had been stalled for three years after its inauguration in five states – Plateau, Kwara, Kaduna, Enugu, Osun and the FCT.

“Though it took the digital television train over three years to arrive in Lagos State from its last stop in Osun, the train is now ready to move faster.

“The DSO train has now changed from narrow gauge to standard gauge, meaning it will move faster to cover 13 states across the country this year alone in the second phase of the DSO rollout, which begins today.

“From Lagos, the DSO train heads to Kano State on June 3, Rivers on July 8; Yobe on July 15; Gombe on Aug. 12; Imo on Aug. 24 and Akwa Ibom on Aug. 31.

“It will move to Oyo on Sept. 9, Jigawa on Sept. 23, Ebonyi on Oct. 17, Katsina on Oct. 21, Anambra on Nov. 4 and Delta on Nov, 18,’ the minister said.

The minister reassured that notwithstanding the huge logistic and financial challenge, they would meet up with the set timeline of Dec. 7, 2022 to complete the DSO process in the country.

He said the switch-on of Lagos was unique and epochal, because it marked the first time that the DSO project would be beaming 60 choice channels to television households.

“This is not by accident. Lagos is Nigeria’s creative hub, hence it is important to harness the creative talents that abound in the state through this project.

“Also, the DSO provides us with a great platform to key into the Lagos Smart City Project, which seeks to use technology to enhance service delivery in all spheres of life,’’ he said.

The minister said besides high fidelity sound and picture, the DSO would facilitate job creation for the teeming youth, stimulate local content and empower channel owners.

He said it would also provide Value Added Services, such as enforcement and collection of TV Licenses, premium PayTV channels, push video on demand, information services and audience measurement.

Lagos state Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-olu was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary of the state’s Ministry of Information and Strategy, Mr Olushina Thorpe.

The governor reiterated the commitment and support of the state to the success and full realisation of the DSO project.