Digital Switch Over (DSO), the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting, is ready for launch in Kwara State, Digiteam disclosed on Friday.
Chairman of Digiteam,Mr Edward Amana, disclosed this when the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, inspected facilities for the roll out in Ilorin.
Digiteam is a Presidential Committee established to oversee Digital Switch Over(DSO). The minister and his team were conducted round the facilities by officials of the Integrated Television Services (ITS), the signal distributor for Ilorin DSO.
Amana told newsmen after the inspection: “We are ready to take off in Ilorin. You have seen the installations. What was lacking before has been rectified and there is some level of redundancy built now into the transition system.
“Right now, we are transmitting 27 channels and once we decide the set date all of these channels will be made available for the coverage areas of this particular transmitter.”
Amana said similar structures like that of the Ilorin site were being replicated in Pategi and Kaiyama areas of Kwara, to effectively cover the entire state with a spill over to neighbouring states.
“Unfortunately, Kaiyama has a bit of a set-back. The mast there fell and it will take a while to re-erect.When Pategi and Kaiyama are up, then we can confidently say the whole of Kwara state is covered and there will be a spill over to the neighbouring states, like Niger,” he said.
Amana said following the test transmission by ITS, those who had the Set-Top Boxes were already picking the signals in Ilorin.
Responding to a question on why the boxes were being sold for about N5000 to N6000 in the market in Ilorin, the Digiteam Chairman said it was a “black market” price.
“The boxes that were being sold are black market prices.They are boxes that were taken to Ilorin by those who bought them at the pilot launch in Jos and later in Abuja.When the official launch takes place in Ilorin, some lucky people may get the boxes for N1500.
“However, the market situation is going to determine the price of the boxes going forward.This is because the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) only subsidised the cost of the boxes for the pilot launch in Jos and some that were used in the Abuja launch,” he said.
Amana said they were working on subsidy arrangements with state governors to bring down the cost as they move to various states to launch the DSO.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director-General of NBC, Modibbo Kawu, said a lot of money would be required if government were to subsidise the Set-Top Boxes needed for the entire DSO roll out in the country.
He said: “DSO in a big country like Nigeria requires a very big fund and Nigeria is just coming out of recession.The country has to take decision between putting money in critical infrastructure like roads, railway and others and also having to put such a huge money to subsidise the boxes for the DSO.
“If the government should say it is putting all the money in DSO, Nigerians will be the first to complain.Therefore, the government has to priotise its funding,” he said.
Kawu said in addition to Kwara State, DSO would also be launched soon in Kaduna, Osun, Delta, Gombe and Enugu states.
The General Manager of ITS, Mr Rotimi Salami, said the test transmission in Ilorin and its metropolis started since June 29. He said they had been transmitting 22 channels on the DSO platform until Friday when they upgraded to 27 channels including 20 national stations and seven local stations.
He assured the minister and his team of a successful roll out of the DSO in the state.