CPC: All Pay TV Operators Must Unlock Free-to-Air Channels

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James Emejo in Abuja

The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) wednesday said the directive it earlier issued to MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, owners the Digital Satellite Broadcast Television (DStv) to unlock all free-to-air channels irrespective of whether subscribers have active subscriptions would be applied across board on all satellite/pay television stations operating in the country.

In February, the council had issued far-reaching directives to MultiChoice to among other things, make compensations to its subscribers within 90 days, after the council established allegations of violations of consumer rights against the broadcaster.

Specifically, the council ordered DSTV to unlock all free-to-air channels even at the expiration of subscription.

DSTV had often refused to release the free to air channels, which should include local television stations whenever current subscription expired.

THISDAY learnt that pay television stations are under obligations to release the free to air channels as part of broadcasting agreement signed. But this had often been in breach.
However, DSTV is not alone in the breach, THISDAY learnt.

Other competition including NTA’s Startimes also knock off key local TV channels at the expiration of a subscription, often leaving the viewer only with one of its NTA news channels.

Responding to enquiries from THISDAY, CPC spokesman, Abiodun Obimuyiwa said the council’s directive would be implemented across board as soon as it gets DSTV to comply within the 90-day deadline issued it.

In a telephone chat, he said: “It’s going to be across board. The orders given will be replicated in these other ones, because we didn’t investigate them yet but our investigations into DSTV led us into the discoveries. So it’s going to get to them (other subscription TV operators).”