Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dokpesi urges FG to support local production of digital decoders

Chairman, Daar Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, has urged federal government to support the local production of digital satellite television (DSTv) decoders.

Speaking recently at the media unveiling of the DaarSAT pay Tv at the federal capital territory, Abuja, Dokpesi said that this call is more crucial now that broadcasting organisations have been mandated to change from analogue to digital transmission before 2012.

According to him, in South Africa, the government is working toward helping the aged to migrate from analogue to digital, while in the United States, a soft loan has been provided by the government for those who need to migrate.

He lamented that there is no known plan of the federal government to support the citizens and even broadcasting organisations to facilitate the migration to digital broadcasting as recently directed, noting that the discussion on digital migration has been on in the country for about 10 years.

Dokpesi disclosed that his DaarComms is planning to set up a plant locally to bring down the cost of digital decoders in the country.

Therefore, he reiterated the call on the government to subsidize the local production of digital decoders.

Champion Infotel recalls that the federal government had fixed 2012 as the deadline for all broadcasting stations in the country to go digitalas, as such all Tv sets in use has to comply to get better viewing.

Taking the media on a tour of the DaarSAT facility in Abuja, he said, the pay Tv has a master control room that is well backed up for about four times.

Investment currently is at about N20 billion for DaarSAT, even as plan is set for the commissioning of the Pay TV by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, on October 7.

“We can actually have the capacity for 100 channels but we’re starting with 40 channels, just as a building is being structured for news to facilitate AIT news 24 by 7 and a multipurpose hall that could accommodate 1000 persons is being built by Dangote,” he said.

Meanwhile, DaarSAT apart from dangling 40 channels on arrival is offering subscribers Visafone internet access as add-on, just as it commenced test running last week Wednesday, September 17, 2008.

Dokpesi reiterated the decision of the company to Nigerianize the pay TV industry with avalanche of local and foreign contents, noting that DaarSAT has seven satellite dishes linked on to the main dish with optic fibre to enable it deliver as planned and across the Ku and C bands respectively.

According to him, all the 40 channels made up of about eight factual 32 entertainment programming genres, which are premium and monthly subscription would not be more than N5,000, even as DaarSAT decoder would not cost above N36,000 against $1000 (about N117,000) that is obtained among other pay TV service providers who also offer less channels.

“We have four levels of decoders and every buyer would get Visafone with Internet access,” he said, assuring that all the good movies nowadays which come on High Definition (HD) because of digital migration of broadcasting organizations globally are compatible with DaarSAT equipment on ground, even as news stations around the global are covered too,” he said.

“We’re going to give you 40 channels. Prime as they are and expensive as they are, it would not pass N5,000 monthly subscription,” Dokpesi reaffirmed.

As at the date of media launch, he said, all the 40 stations, DaarSAT has relevant Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and paid all related dues as expected including with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

He enumerated some of the 40 channels to include AIT-MoviStar, Daar-StarXpress, Sahara One, Sahara Filmy, B4U Movies, Fox Crime, Fox Entertainment, Luxe TV, Art Channel, Gamzaki Channel, Yoruba channel, NTA, AIT, Channels TV, MBI International, Nickelodeon, Fox Baby Tv, Kidsco, Fuel, Euronews, AIT News.

Others are BBCWorld, Al-Jazera, Fox News, AIT Parliamentary, African Business channel, CNBC Africa, AIT Sports, Fox Sports, Setanta Africa, EurosSportsNews, Quest TV, B4U Music, Fashion TV, SoundCity, Primetime Africa, National Geographic Music, MTV Base, MCM Top and Pop as well as SciTech TV.

Also, Dokpesi explained that the aforementioned channels were chosen out of the desire to offer high-end channels for less, pointing out that CNN was never approached and from African perspective “We have Al Jazera,” stressing that CNN could still be added if subscribers so demanded over time.

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