Senate orders MultiChoice, others to halt tariff hike

The Senate has directed pay-tv service providers to halt the increase in their prices in tandem with the economic situation in Nigeria. Specifically, it kicked against the increase in tariffs by Multi-Choice Nigeria.

The Red Chamber has also set in motion machinery to probe Multi-Choice, owners of DSTV and GOTV Satellite’s decoders, over alleged arbitrary price hike of monthly subscription of various bouquets on their platforms.

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

Consequently, the Senate constituted a seven-man Ad-hoc Committee to probe the tariff hike introduced by pay-tv service providers.

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The Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to direct pay-tv providers to introduce a pay-per-view model of subscription as against the monthly prepaid model presently in place.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, urged the committee to find out how other countries are billed by pay-tv service providers.

The Committee, which has the Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, APC, Niger North as Chairman, has 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.

The Committee was given one month to report at plenary. Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion entitled: “Nigerians dumbfounded, outraged over Pay-Tv Tariff Hikes, demand for Pay-Per-View subscription model” was sponsored by Patrick Abba Moro. 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 the leading pay-tv service provider in Nigeria, (MultiChoice Nigeria) informed all DStv compact subscribers on August, 22 2020, to expect a 13.3per cent 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 13.6per cent 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 (N21,000), Compact (N14,250), Compact (N9, 000), Confam (N5, 300), Yanga (N2, 950), Padi (N2, 150), Business(N2, 669), Xtraview PVR access fee (N2, 900). Those of GOtv are as follows; GOtv Max (N4,150), GOtv Jolli (N2, 6669), GOtv Jinja (N1, 900), GOtv Lite (N900).”

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 Federal 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 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 for is a flexible model plan of subscription which allows subscribers of pay-tv to pay-per watch, to avoid Paying for services which they do not consume.

<<The Nation>>