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March 30, 2022

Senate probes DStv, GOtv over subscription fees hike

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Senate President, Ahmad Lawan

By Henry Umoru, Abuja

The Senate has begun moves to probe the operations of Multi-Choice Nigeria, owners of DSTV and GOTV Satellite decoders over alleged arbitrary price hikes of monthly subscriptions of various bouquets on their platforms.

The probe is designed to ascertain the possible constraints that have made it difficult for the Pay-TV providers to introduce Pay-Per-View for subscribers in the Nigerian market, especially with the pricing activities of DStv (MultiChoice Nigeria) in Nigeria with a view to bringing them in line with international practice. 

Consequently, the Senate has today constituted a seven-man ad-hoc committee to carry out a very comprehensive investigation into the tariff hike introduced by pay-tv service providers operating in the country. 

The Upper Chamber has directed all pay-tv service providers to as a matter of urgency, review their bouquet prices downwards in tandem with the prevailing reality of the economic situation in Nigeria, just as it kicked against the increase in tariffs by Multi-Choice Nigeria. The Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and the Nigerian Communications Commission to direct all pay-tv providers to introduce a pay-per-view model of subscription as against the month to month prepaid model presently in place; and 

The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, while announcing the composition of the ad-hoc committee, tasked it to carry out a comprehensive investigation into how other countries are billed by pay-tv service providers. 

The Committee which has the Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, APC, Niger North as Chairman, has  Senators Sulaiman Abdu Kwari, APC, Kaduna North; Oluremi Tinubu, APC, Lagos Central;  Yusuf A. Yusuf, APC, Taraba Central;   Lekan Mustapha, APC, Ogun East;  Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North and  Akon Eyakenyi, PDP, Akwa Ibom South as members.

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The Committee was given one month to report back at the plenary.

Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion titled, “Nigerians dumbfounded, outraged over Pay-Tv Tariff Hikes, demand for Pay-Per-View subscription model”, The motion was sponsored by Patrick Abba Moro, PDP, Benue South. 

In his presentation, Senator Moro who noted with concern the uproar within the public over tariff hikes, price increases by Pay-tv service providers on their bouquets, said that the leading pay-tv service provider in Nigeria, (MultiChoice Nigeria) informed all DStv compact subscribers on August, 22 2020, to expect a 13.3% price increase to N7,900 up from N6, 975 commencing from September 1, 2020.

Moro who bemoaned the hike in subscription fee for DStv compact plus by 9.8 percent from N10,925 to N12,000, and DStv premium from N16, 200 to N18,400 indicating a 13.6% hike, said, “MultiChoice Nigeria willfully and perpetually increases the cost of its bundles because there is no regulation whatsoever in the area of fixing rates.”

“Notes further that as usual, without recourse to the economic situation of the country MultiChoice has again raised the cost of its DStv and GOtv bundles stating them as follows, DStv Premium (#21,000), Compact (#14,250), Compact (#9, 000), Confam (#5, 300), Yanga (#2, 950), Padi (#2, 150), Business(#2, 669), Xtraview PVR access fee (2, 900). 

“Those of GOtv are as follows; GOtv Max (4,150), GOtv Jolli (#2, 6669), GOtv Jinja (#1, 900), GOtv Lite (#900).”

The Senator  expressed concern that thousands of pay-tv subscribers in Nigeria have bitterly reacted to the development on different social media platforms, ranging from deep shock to pure outrage with many asking the Nigerian government to checkmate the activities of pay-tv service providers in Nigeria especially in the area of fixing prices.

According to him, among the bitter complaints of Nigerian subscribers of pay-tv services is the poor network service experienced as a result of bad weather/ epileptic electricity supply, which sometimes makes a whole month subscription wasteful without the subscriber watching anything before the expiration.

Moro stressed that Nigerians are demanding that, rather than paying fixed rates for packages monthly, pay-tv service providers should introduce a subscription model which allows subscribers pay-per-view to enable them to match their TV consumption to subscription as it is the case with electricity metering and mobile telephony.

He explained that the pay-per-view that Nigerian subscribers are demanding, is a flexible model plan of subscription which allows subscribers of pay-tv to pay-per watch, to avoid Paying for services that they do not consume.

Vanguard News Nigeria