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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

DaarSAT, a harvest of democracy


Features of the week:

DaarSAT was officially commissioned in Abuja, recently. REMMY NWEKE, who was there reports that it was a harvest of democracy.

In what looks like a week long event, from the clergy to the industry regulators of both the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as well as stakeholders not devoid of political class were all in tandem in applauding the management of Daar Communications (DaarComms) Plc, under the chairmanship of Dr. Aleogho Dokpesi, almost a week before the official commissioning of its Digital Satellite Television (DSTv) also known as Direct-to-Home Digital Satellite Pay TV called DaarSAT, with over 40 channels whereas targeting 120.

Chief executive of NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and his team were at the hilltop headquarters of DaarComms to see for themselves the multimillion dollars installations. This preceded the visiting of a notable clergy, Monsignor Sylvester Osigwe. While Ndukwe and Osigwe poured encomium on Dokpesi’s leadership in the company, they enjoined other Nigerian private investors to emulate the patriotic spirit behind the success made so far by the group. And the roll call continued until the date of the official launch by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on Tuesday, October 7, 2008.

Serving 900 million viewers:
Welcoming guest at the event Dokpesi, dished out some of the features of DaarSAT, saying it would offer about 40 channels for a start, but has the capacity for120 channels. He stressed that DaarSAT stands out as the first truly African multi-channel pay-TV platform to an estimated 900 million Africans on the continent.

According to him, Nigeria is the hub of DaarSAT operations with its bouquet of world class channels’ subscription at the rate of N5,000 monthly, thereby bringing to five the number of Direct-To-Home (DTH) Pay TV operators in the country. DaarComms is the owners of African Independent Television (AIT) and RayPower FM.

Transmitting on high definition digital systems, Dokpesi explained that DaarSAT signals would be delivered digitally on Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB)-S2M PEG4/HD STB with 250 gigabyte hard disk base.


“We have paid great attention to customer satisfaction. We will, therefore, not compromise on quality service delivery, value on investment and excellent customer relations. We are working in partnership with the Indian-based Magnaquest Technologies PVT Ltd, the world’s biggest customer service firm in the management of our subscriber portfolio,” he said.

Maintaining that DaarSAT’s operating philosophy is borne out of a compelling need to provide world class service to television audiences and widen the choices available to media content consumers at an affordable rate.

Eight Years after forced take bid:
Dokpesi recalled that eight years ago a consortium of banks instigated by the government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to take over the operations of African Independent Television and Ray Power FM, due to the loans taken from them to initiative the DaarSAT project, was actually salvaged by the former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, who truly offered the succour.

As said by him, the banks had demanded the immediate repayment of the loan DaarComms borrowed to expand its television operation or the takeover of the broadcast media.

He acknowledged that although many members of the public had heeded the call to donate N50 each to save the broadcast media from takeover, enough money could not have been generated through that channel without the financial intervention of Ibori. The News Building was therefore named after Ibori.

A harvest of democracy :
Also he named the satellite building after General Jeremiah Useni for his role in 1994, at the first closure of Ray Power by ensuring it’s re-opened. The administrative building was named after Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, whom Dokpesi described as a mentor, whereas the main studio building was named after a former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, whom the Daar Communications chief said was a friend and supporter.

Nevertheless, the audience unreservedly applauded the naming of the operational building of the group after former President of the Senate, Chief Ken Nnamani, for his role in the defense of democracy, free speech and the defeat of the infamous ‘Third Term’ agenda of the former administration.

DaarSAT, the first:
President Yar’Adua represented by the Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. John Ogar Odey, at the occasion, expressed confidence that DaarComms has become the first Digital Satellite Television of Nigeria origin to broadcast to the rest of the world.

Tasking DaarSAT on the need to inform the world of positive strides Nigeria and its citizenry are making, Yar’Adua advised the media on reportage that could put in danger the security of the nation.

``This event is a potent and strong affirmation of the enabling environment created by the administration for investment and capacity building in ICT and other sectors of the economy. The growth and monumental development being experienced in the broadcast media is a positive pointer to the fact that the deregulation of the industry is indeed paying off for Nigeria and Nigerians,’’ Yar’Adua said.

Abiding with NBC code:
He also advised DaarComms to ensure that its news and programmes were guided by the National Broadcasting Code with focus on the nation’s rich cultural heritage to afford “the world to appreciate Nigeria’s huge investment potential.”

A member of the board of directors of DaarComms, Ambassador Segun Olusegun said that beyond projecting a good image of the country, DaarSAT is the beginning of forcing good governance on the country as the platform would expose Nigeria to the world.

“It would appear, therefore, that as DaarSAT gives out the right Nigerian and African image and affects a good judgment of the country and continent through the propagation of the African perspective to global issues. Governments must ensure that such positive image is not marred by visible underdevelopment and bad governance,” he said.

Submission:
In all, stakeholders at the event agreed that Nigeria has made a big stride and DaarSAT seems to be the channel at this time competitors are facing mass protests both in Lagos and Abuja, over poor services and customer care. All that is now left is living up to the billing as promised by Dokpesi, after all, he delivered his promise on AIT as well as RayPower and DaarSAT, according to observers, will deliver.


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