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DSO Nigeria Jinxed Again!

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By Tolagbe Oworu

As the chequered history of the Digital Switch Over(DSO)  from analogue broadcasts in Nigeria encounters yet another setback, it is disheartening but inevitable to conclude that it has truly succumbed to the notorious jinx termed “Nigerian Factor”.

The momentum of progress in taking the latest international broadcasting system across the nation came to an abrupt unexplained halt since February 2018 when Osun State became the fifth and last Nigerian state to launch in a ceremony presided by  the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

Before then in December 2016, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo conducted the DSO national launch on behalf of President Muhamadu Buhari  at the state-of-the-art Signal Distribution Broadcast Centre established on Mpape Hill, Abuja in record-breaking time(according to NBC DG Modibbo Kawu) by Pinnacle Communications Limited the FCT, which was also  responsible for the Kaduna Broadcasting Centre commissioned in December 2017. The Ilorin, Enugu and Osogbo DSO centers were set up by Integrated Television Services (ITS), the NTA subsidiary national signals distributor.

The abrupt halt in DSO launch since last February is contrary to the confident assurance given by Information Minister Lai Mohammed  at the Ilorin launch two months earlier, when he declared         “ we cannot afford to drop the ball as we continue our journey from analogue to digital television, because the benefits to our people are huge. Yes, this process has not been without hiccups. But like the saying goes, you will never reach your destination if you stop to throw stones at every dog that barks”.

Minister Lai Mohammed has remained curiously quiet since the “DSO ball” got dropped now more than a year later but his words have been echoing especially in the last few months when some equally curious developments replaced the expected launchings on the DSO front. It is remarkable that the events resulting in yet another “hiccup” in the DSO process can indeed be likened to the barking of dogs and the throwing of stones as alluded to by the minister, and it does look like we “will never reach (our) DSO destination”.

This is of course a reference to the controversial ICPC “investigation” into alleged “misapplication of N2.5 billion seed grant released to the agency (NBC) by the federal government for its digital switch-over programme”, as revealed in its November 2018 press statement which drew public criticism for certain factual errors in reference to the DSO project. The ICPC statement was comparable to the barking of the watch-dog and its contents were similar to stones thrown at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Pinnacle Communications Limited and their respective executives, all of which have now snow-balled into charges against them before a Federal High Court in Abuja.

While DSO enthusiasts in Nigeria and indeed the world await the outcome of the court process, we must reflect on Minister Lai Mohammed’s quoted remark that the DSO in Nigeria         “ has not been without hiccups”  even as  we witness yet another hiccup this time, unfortunately, under his watch!

It must be distressing for Lai Mohammed who once made huge capital of his supposed role in salvaging the DSO and getting it back on track soon after he became information minister and continued to bask in the glory of a successful national launch and progressive expansion of coverage after a jinxed history of two embarrassing missed deadlines and a protracted court case instituted   by Pinnacle Communications Limited against breach of its N680 million private signal distributor license agreement under the previous administration and NBC management.

Interestingly, Pinnacle Communications Limited, the largest private investor and main facilitator of the eventual reclamation of the Nigerian DSO from its jinxed history gets submerged under the fanfare of progress in DSO implementation, even to the extent of becoming a “victim” of its own achievement.

Soon after emerging successful bidder and paying the huge amount of N680 million for the private signal distribution license in 2014, the NBC and its collaborators in the Presidency began surreptitiously slicing off portions of its functions and “sub-letting” them to companies that were not even part of the difficult bidding process as favours. Only by seeking the intervention of the court was it able to put a stop to such brazen breach of license agreement! Today, Pinnacle Communications Limited is facing ICPC charges even as its voluntary withdrawal of a breach of agreement suit in 2016 and subsequent significant facilitation enabled successful national launch of the DSO and the Kaduna Broadcast Centre.

From all indications, the jinxed history of DSO implementation in Nigeria is repeating itself as it is unlikely that the progressive momentum that saw to the rapid roll-out of the DSO from the FCT to Kaduna, Ilorin, Enugu and Osogbo between December 2016 and February 2018 but fizzled out unceremoniously for more than a year thus far can be revived in the foreseeable future, under the prevailing circumstances.

Nevertheless, Information Minister, Lai Mohammed remains curiously above and beyond the DSO jinx that he was able to cast away barely two years ago but has somehow returned as a “hiccup” under his watch. Obviously, the minister knew of no “barking dogs” when, at the Osogbo launch, he trumpeted “ within the next few weeks, we will be rolling out in many more states as we seek to take the digital television experience to all the six geo-political zones. We now have our two Signal Distributors in full operation mode, the National Broadcasting Commission, the Set Top Box manufacturers, Digiteam Nigeria and indeed all stakeholders are pulling all the stops to ensure that the DSO train continues unimpeded on its journey across the country.”

So now that the DSO train has been halted for more than a year with Minister Lai Mohammed as a silenced spectator, where has all the collaborative confidence canvassing gone? And who is really responsible for the return of the DSO jinx?

TOLAGBE OWORU  writes from Osogbo

 

 

 

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Ayeni Adekunle, BHM Founder to Speak At 2019 Africa Communications Week

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Ayeni Adekunle, CEO, Black House Media (BHM) has been confirmed to speak at a masterclass during the 2019 Africa Communications Week.

 

The masterclass which is themed “Strategies for Driving Disruptive Innovation In Communications” will see Ayeni share his wealth of experience with the audience.

 

The event will hold at Oriental Hotel on Thursday, May 24, 2019.

 

Africa Communications Week is the premier gathering for communications professionals and thought leaders looking to impact the current narrative on Africa.

 

The organisation hosts a series of conferences, workshops and webinars around the world to encourage Africa focused communications professionals connect, engage and impact Africa’s economic transformation through strategic communication.

 

Ayeni was listed as one of the top 30 communications professionals in Africa in a report released by the organisation on April 16, 2019.

 

Speaking ahead of the Masterclass, Ayeni said, “Over the years, the African Communications Week has offered communication professionals like me, the chance to meet, network and rub minds.

 

“This also gives us the opportunity to discuss the impact of communication of Africa’s development.

 

I’m excited to be part of this year’s event and I look forward to speaking and sharing ideas with the audience”.

 

Africa Communications Week is an annual event which hosts various marketing communications professionals from all over the continent.

 

With various industry stakeholders in attendance, the event provides the opportunity for like minds to convene, connect, engage and impact economic transformation in the continent through strategic communication.

 

 

 

 

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World Cultural Day: Ariya Repete Returns, Introduces New Afro-Pop Category

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Nigeria’s foremost talent hunt competition for indigenous Yoruba music is back for yet another edition.

 

The 2019 Edition of Ariya Repete was announced on the 21st of May at a media briefing hosted at the Nigerian Breweries Headquarters in Lagos.

 

The day, which also marked the World cultural & diversity day, provided the perfect incentive for Goldberg Lager to unveil the beloved talent hunt competition.

 

The media briefing featured an excellent roundtable conversation by some veterans in traditional genres of Yoruba music (i.e Juju, Fuji) as well as some new generation artists whose music has been influenced by the Yoruba culture.

 

Moderated by leading on-air personality – Adebayo Faleke, the panelists included veterans like Dr Saheed Osupa, Sir Shina Peters, Yinka Davis, President of FUMAN, Alhaji Sikiru Agboola as well as Tolu Obey, who is a PMAN executive and the son of Legendary Juju artist, Ebenezer Obey.

 

The new generation was ably represented by the likes of Sound Sultan and renowned music producer ID Cabasa.

 

The panel discussion which was themed around the topic – “One Culture, One Voice, New Sound” provided the perfect platform to announce the return of one of the most revered initiatives that celebrate the Yoruba culture.

 

The panelists discussed the evolution of indigenous Yoruba genres of music, highlighting the roles played by both the older and younger generation of artists.

 

The exciting roundtable conversations were an eye opener as the artists shared various insights into the past and potential future of the industry.

 

This year’s edition of Ariya Repete is set to up the ante and will be the first ever to be aired on television with the aim to reach an even wider audience.

 

This is particularly exciting for fans of the show as the 2019 Ariya Repete will be introducing an all-new category tagged ‘Afro Pop’.

 

The introduction of Afro-Pop has already got fans eagerly anticipating the selection parties which will be kicking off in various cities across western Nigeria on the 11th of June.

 

Maria Shadeko, Senior Brand Manager of Goldberg & Life Lager who spoke at the round table session expressed delight at the return of the talent hunt,

 

“Ariya Repete is a very special platform that allows us to showcase and celebrate the very best talents in South-Western Nigeria.

 

“Over the years, we have been able to continually delight our consumers with this initiative as well as provide unforgettable memories for winners of past editions.

 

“This year we are taking it further by not only increasing the prize money but also adding an all-new category.

 

“The theme of this year’s competition is ‘The Fusion’, and in light of this, we are looking for the next big artist who will dominate the Nigerian music scene.

 

“We, at Goldberg, applaud the innovative and inspiring fusion of traditional Yoruba music with contemporary music.

 

“This year, with Ariya Repete we want to celebrate this blend of both worlds.

 

“We believe that the 2019 Ariya Repete will be the best ever, which is why we are taking the experience to TV, to show all of Africa that Goldberg Lager believes and celebrates the amazing indigenous talents from southwestern Nigeria.”

 

The regional auditions are set to kick-off on the 11th of June as Goldberg takes the auditions and selection parties to 8 western cities in two weeks.

 

The selected talents will then head down to Lagos for mentorship sessions by some of the respected acts in their genres before returning to the contest to slug it in the quarterfinals from 5th of July.

 

The Semi-Final will be hosted on the 12th of July while the grand finale is slated for 19th of July.

 

Ariya Repete is proudly sponsored by Goldberg lager; Goldberg lager is renowned for conceptualizing and executing initiatives such as these, which highlights the beauty of tradition and culture.

 

With a wide array of exciting consumer engagement activities that brilliantly connects with its ever-loyal audience, Goldberg continues to remain one of the most authentic brands in the beer industry.

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New Access to Premium Local TV Channels Enabled via Satellite Debuts

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Nigeria’s latest free-to-air (FTA) local channel bouquet, “PREMIUM.FREE”, has enabled local television broadcast audiences access to 13 new premium channels which are custom-made for African viewers. These include multinational language channels like Cinema Hausa, and popular African lifestyle channels such as True African.

Delivered via SES satellites, this innovative channel bouquet is supplied by AfricaXP, the leading independent African network, which is well-known for its compelling Nollywood catalogue and longstanding partnerships with prominent West African producers.

Craig Kelly, CEO of AfricaXP, says that working with SES has enabled PREMIUM.FREE to achieve the maximum possible reach in Nigeria. “We are confident that localization, coupled with our fresh international rights will provide the kind of content blend that modern West African audiences demand. Transmitted free-to-air via satellite, this is obviously a great offer at a price point that can’t be beaten.”

It is this blend of premium African programming with top-flight international content across a diverse range of themes from sports to movies, telenovelas, kids, factual, reality and lifestyle programming, which really sets PREMIUM.FREE apart from other channel bouquet offerings on the market.

SES, the world’s leading satellite operator with over 70 satellites, reaches over 9 million Direct-to-Home households across West Africa from its orbital position of 28.2 degrees East. Those households with existing FTA set-top boxes (STBs) will be able to start watching the new channels on their existing STBs for free.

“The Nigerian FTA market in particular offers great opportunities for growth, and we are proud to have engaged with PREMIUM.FREE to deliver a differentiated content package for Nigeria and offer more choice for viewers,” says Clint Brown, Vice President of Sales and Market Development, Africa for SES Video.

“New initiatives like this, which focus on delivering local and international content that is attractive for the end-consumer and is offered in high picture quality, will further develop consumer choice in Nigeria,” Brown concludes.

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