Startimes in collaboration with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA-Star TV Network) says it has invested $220 million in Nigeria, even as its subscriber base reached the four million mark.
Chief Executive Officer of Startimes, David Zhang, disclosed this during a visit by a group of journalists to the Abuja office of the Chinese pay satellite TV network, stressing that the $220m went into setting up over 80 transmitting stations, satellite and digital infrastructure, programmes, software and hardware.
Zhang noted that in line with the commitment of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, Startimes is extending its reach to about 10,000 villages in Africa and provide them with affordable satellite TV. He explained this was in line with the promise of the Chinese President on the Belt and Roads Initiative for a more robust connectivity between China and Africa.
Zhang added that 1000 villages were targeted in Nigeria with at least one satellite TV in each of the 774 local government areas in the country. He said Startimes has so far employed about 1,300 Nigerian workers and also trained them to enhance their technical capacities.
According to him, a cultural centre established in Beijing was adapting Nigerian films and content into Chinese languages to boost cultural exchange between Nigerians and the Chinese.
He pointed out that some Chinese animators who were interested in working with local animators visited Nigeria recently, and added that they expressed interest in working with Wale Adenuga Productions to produce Nigerian-Chinese cartoons.
“The project is being delayed by the equipment needed to enhance the translation from Nigerian languages to Chinese,” Zhang noted.
The Managing Director of NTA-TV, Maxwell Loko, said the company was refocusing on production of quality content for its teeming customers and that it was establishing a content hub in Lagos to scale up the production of top-notch programmes, as the facility would provide opportunities for those in the creative industry to make more money.
Loko added that Startimes planned to roll out television sets with solar panels in June to enable Nigerians in rural areas to enjoy compelling TV programmes.
Loko stated that Startimes has de-mystified pay TV business in the country, adding that the field which was once dominated by a monopoly had been opened up by the NTA in collaboration with its Chinese partners.
He however, lamented the inadequate power supply in the country which he said was affecting Startimes’ profitability.
“The poor power supply in the country is affecting our business and eating deep into our profitability. We have generators running 24/7 at our 80 transmitting stations with a back-up, especially in remote areas where there is no power supply.
“Currently, we have about 4 million subscribers, others may claim to have more but we don’t hide figures. We are introducing TV with solar panel to enable subscribers in the villages to enjoy our programmes. We are expecting the stock by June,” he said.
Contributing, a Startimes’ engineer, Mr Josiah Turner, said the company had introduced a dual-model decoder which supported terrestrial and satellite TV broadcast.