FG stops subsidy on digital switchover

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The Federal Government says “there will be no more subsidies, either for set-top boxes or Signal carriage” as it plans to resume the rollout of Digital Switchover, a transition from analogue to digital television broadcasting.The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja at a “Digiteam” meeting to foster dialogue among the various stakeholders in the DSO architecture.

Mohammed stressed that while the government is looking for money to pay outstanding debts and restart the DSO roll out, the process will be fully private sector driven and self-sustaining.

“On our part, we have made tremendous progress in our efforts to get the much-needed funds for the DSO process, in particular, to pay outstanding debts that will ginger stakeholders to resume the rollout and bring the massive benefits of the DSO to Nigerians.

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“As I speak, we are putting finishing touches to a memo we plan to send to the Federal Executive Council as part of our relentless efforts to secure the funds to restart the process, and we are very optimistic that our efforts will pay off soon.

“The Analogue to Digital Switch Over must not be delayed any longer than absolutely necessary,” he said.

Following the successful launch of the DSO in April 2016 in Jos, Plateau state, the federal government announced the reduction of price of set-top boxes from the official N10,000 to N1,500 in order to get it across to all Nigerians.

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About 200,000 boxes were also given out for the pilot phase free of charge.

Similarly, the Plateau Government also announced subsidy plans for its citizens and promised to distribute 300,000 boxes to them.

Mohammed noted that moving ahead with the DSO was critical to the post-COVID prosperity of the Creative Industry and that was why the government has taken it as a priority.

He recalled the enthusiasm that greeted the launch of the DSO in Jos, noting that the process was stalled due to many factors but mainly lack of funds.

“After the launch of the pilot phase in Jos, the launch train moved fairly quickly to Abuja on December 22, 2016, then to Ilorin, Kwara State, on December 20, 2017, Kaduna two days later on December 22 2017.

“We then proceeded to Enugu on February 12, 2018, and finally to Osogbo, Osun State, on Feb. 23 2018.

“Over two years later, we have not launched the DSO in any state, even when we have 31 more states to cover!

“The bottom line is that we need to think out of the box if we are to complete this process. Nigerians have waited far too long to enjoy the benefits of digital television.”

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The meeting was attended by representatives of the National Broadcasting Commission, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, Set Top Boxes Manufacturers, broadcast stations, among others.

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