House Probes DSTV, Others over High Tariff

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By Udora Orizu

The House of Representatives has begun an investigation of DSTV, owned by Multichoice and some other cable and satellite television service providers in Nigeria over their high tariffs and for allegedly cheating its Nigerian subscribers by restricting them to prepaid plans.

Recently, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, inaugurated an ad hoc committee to investigate the hike of subscription rates by Multichoice and other cable television service providers.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Unyime Idem, at the investigative hearing on Thursday, said the National Broadcasting Commission was summoned to explain why DSTV and other service providers had refused to introduce pay as you view.

He said, ”We want to hear from you and your team, how the industry can be properly managed so that beneficiaries who are Nigerians can smile at the end of the day. I am sure you must have been hearing of the yearnings of Nigerians for years now, who are the subscribers to these services, that they are not happy with the current services they are getting from the providers.

”They have been crying on a daily basis that they are not satisfied with the services they are getting from the providers in terms of high charges, price hike and, most importantly, considering what is obtainable in other countries of the world, that is pay-as you-view offer that other countries are giving to their subscribers.”

Responding to questions, the acting NBC Director General, Armstrong Idacha, agreed that this issue of high subscription rates imposed by Multichoice had been contentious over the years.

Idacha explained that the Corporation had amended the Act to prohibit exclusive rights of programmes by a service provider, with a view to reducing the level of monopoly in the creative industry, adding that plans are underway to introduce ‘technological concept’ to ensure that subscribers are not billed when they are not watching.

”The concept is easy to implement on mobile telephone with the use of data, while it is impossible to do same on the Pay TV service provider who subscribed to broadcasting live programmes at the International market. The challenge at hand was that the contents acquired by Multichoice at the international market was based on projected or assumed subscribers, and the technology will help in building content for signal distribution platform since it’s continuous live broadcast,” he said