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Minister Calls ITS, NTA-STAR MoU Game Changer for DSO

By Chimezie Godfrey

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Integrated Television Services Limited (ITS) and NTA-Star as a game changer in the rollout of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) across the country.

The Minister, who witnessed the signing of the MoU in Abuja on Monday, said the DSO is now on a fast-track as ITS will henceforth utilize the facilities and structures of NTA-Star for distribution of the DSO signals.

“The MoU that has just been signed will fast-rack our rollout and take the DSO to a higher pedestal. That’s why I described it as a game changer. With this MoU, ITS will utilize the structures and facilities of NTA-Star, a terrestrial PayTV platform, spread across the country,

for signal distribution. In other words, ITS will henceforth become the Signal Distributor in the structure of NTA-Star,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said that in essence, the signing of the MoU has given effect to the Whitepaper on the DSO, which bars terrestrial payTV from self-carriage in Nigeria.

He said NTA-Star, which has over 70 transmission sites spread across 35 states and the FCT, has effectively covered a large portion of this country with their signals, adding that the Federal Government would strive to cover at least 70% of the country with Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) signal and then deploy Direct To Home (DTH) to provide 30% signal to areas in difficult terrains such as riverine and mountainous areas.

The Minister said that with the signing of the MoU, the Set Up Boxes (decoders) of NTA-Star will now have multiple encryptions, which will enable viewers to enjoy FreeTV content alongside paid content, stressing that the MoU will open the floodgates for channels to be licensed by NBC, thereby creating jobs and enhancing television experience with quality and compelling content.

He explained that the decision to transition from analogue to digital television, following a treaty that was signed at the Regional Radiocommunication Conference (RRC-06) in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16, 2006, is aimed at creating a more equitable, just and people-centered information society, which will connect underserved populations and remote communities, thereby bridging the digital divide.

“The key benefits of digital television broadcasting are: Wider choice in TV and radio channels; Improved picture, e.g. HD, UHD and High-Fidelity sound; Greater flexibility with the potential for portable and mobile reception; Enhanced information services including the Electronic Programming Guide or enhanced ‘teletext’ services (with enhanced graphics); Potential for interactivity; and Increased market
competition and innovation, thanks to the potential arrival of new entrants at different levels in the value-chain, for instance new
service providers, broadcasters, etc,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

The Chief Financial Officer of NTA-Star, Mr. Brolaleyn Linying Nan, who represented the CEO of NTA-Star, signed on behalf of the
organization, while the General Manager of ITS, Engr. Sadeeq Musa, signed on behalf of the organization.

The MoU signing ceremony was witnessed by the Director General, National Broadcasting Commission, Mallam Balarabe Ilelah; Acting
Director General of NTA and Chairman of NTA-Star, Mr. Abdulhamid Dembos; Chairman, DIGITEAM Nigeria, Engr. Edward Amana; Chairman, Set Up Box Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa and General Manager, Pinnacle Communications, Engr. Olusegun Yakubu, among other key stakeholders in the DSO ecosystem.

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