Toyin Subair, exec chairman of media company Digital Play, has called out to the federal government to regain control of Nigeria’s TV industry from foreign companies.
In a recent interview with newspaper The Nation, Subair said Nigeria has the biggest creative industry in Africa but is unable to monetise its content because of the invasion of foreign TV companies. These control the TV infrastructure and dictate what is broadcast, he claimed.
According to Subair, home-based infrastructure is what is needed to help the industry thrive. “We need to fight the infrastructural battle. We need to own the platforms. We need to get the right kind of funding,” he said.
“We need to ensure that our stories are told the way we want them to be told and that they are not bastardised by the ones controlling it. Somebody else is deciding what goes on and what doesn’t, when it should go out and how it shouldn’t go out. You don’t want that; you don’t want people to take our creativity out of the country.”
Subair, former CEO of now defunct Nigerian pay TV outfit HiTV, said the digital switch over (DSO) transition will be instrumental in the nation’s control over its content, with the advent of set-top boxes ensuring content creators have access to more than 24 million TV households.
However, he pleaded with the Nigerian government to ensure that DSO is not taken over by foreign companies.
He also claimed that while DSO is lucrative it needs to be funded. “They say there is no money, but how can you say there is no money? The very essence of DSO is that you free up spectrum that people can use to go and sell data and make data cheaper via LT 4G 5G.
“So, 16 analogue TV channels find that if they move to digital, they will only need a fraction of it and then you can take the rest and sell it. With regards to the funding of DSO, we are sitting on it ourselves with no transaction being done properly to free it. It’s like a chicken and egg situation.
“You are sitting on the money but you need to monetise it. You just need a few smart people in one room, create a model where it is used as security to fund the rest of DSO, and then once it is funded and you remove the people, you use the asset and sell it off to monetise the investment. Now, what I just said looks simple; we make it difficult for ourselves.”