Nigeria: Daarsat Set to Pump Life Into Pay TV Market

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When the digital power gathering at DaarSat is unleashed from Kpaduma Hills, corporate headquarters of the organisation, it will have capacity to belt out 40 digital satellite TV channels, and eight high definition, HD, signals in a direct-to-home format, thus becoming the biggest Nigerian broadcast set up to operate in that sector.

Put succinctly, DaarSat actually has the power to dominate the pay TV sector in Africa and this reality unwrapped as Dokpesi took the media executives round the premises. The digital facilities are set and revving to go. The station is coming with comprehensive programme bouquet of News, Entertainment, Sports, Fashion, Documentaries and Science Fiction, among others, drawn from different parts of the world and a few splash from within the country.

Some of the channels are premium channels, according to Dokpesi, were specially selected to give the best TV time to subscribers across the countries. Most of the channels are drawn from America, Europe and India and some of them have never been seen here at all because, as Dokpesi explained, they are pretty expensive to bring to subscribers except as part of a pay TV bouquet.

Among them are Fox Crime, Fox Entertainment, Fox Baby TV, Fox News, Al Jazeera, National Geographic Music, Scitech TV, MCM Pop, MCM Top, Kidsco and Fuel, just to name a few. A number of Nigerian TV Stations like NTA, Channels, MBI and AIT are on the platform even as Sound City, Primetime Africa and a few others have also been specially selected not only to meet the taste of the subscribers but also by way of exposing Nigerian TV programmes and entertainment to the rest of the world.

The case of AIT Movistar is quite instructive and also eye-opening. Developed only last year to demonstrate the vibrancy of the country's local Movie and Programmes sector, the channel already has 2.5million TV homes of the 90million TV market.

Dokpesi said that for all this; the subscriber will not have to pay more than N5, 000 to access the various bouquets. "All the channels we are going to give are premium channels. I pay about N250, 000 to DSTV for my various homes. I don't want other Nigerians to go through that kind of pain," he said.

But the subscription price was only the beginning. While a high definition decoder goes for more than US$1,000 in South Africa, the integrated high definition decoders which DaarSat is introducing to Nigeria shortly will sell for only US$300. Also by way of demonstrating the organisation's readiness for the business, Dokpesi informed that Daarsat in cooperation with Kanyon Media in South Korea will manufacture flat screen TVs with in-built decoders, the first of its kind in the country, to ensure that viewers have the best of TV at an attractive price.

Speaking at the new Alhaji Bamanga Tukur administrative building, Dokpesi had explained that in readiness to launch the new service, he was gathering experts from different parts of the world; Europe, America and Asia, who are being understudied by Nigerians. Such technology transfer will also be very visible in flat screen TV manufacturing, as Kanyon has agreed to set up a manufacturing plant in Nigeria.

Conducting the visitors round what seems be a growing dish farm on Kpaduma Hills, Dokpesi pointed out that the reason he is committing so much fund to such high tech installations is the need to develop a technology culture where Nigerians will be in charge instead of foreigners. All signals will be received and turned around in Nigeria instead of the practice by other operators who process their signals in Spain before being sent to Nigeria.

The Daar chairman also promised that as the host broadcaster of Under 17 tournament holding in Nigeria next year, his organisations is prepared to broadcast the entire programme on high definition television."All sporting events around the world are done on high definition," he said.

Vanguard (Lagos) 11 September 2008