MultiChoice in another pay-as-you-view tussle with Reps

This is indeed a difficult time for the management of MultiChoice Nigeria, owner of DStv and GOtv, as the Pay TV may be forced to answer the same questions for the umpteenth time.

In few days, the House of Representatives, which has begun an investigation of cable and satellite television service providers in Nigeria over their high tariffs and monopolised bouquets, will invite the company to answer questions over the much talked-about ‘pay as you earn.’

Though, it is an industry probe, the House is specifically probing Digital Satellite Television, a South Africa-based provider owned by MultiChoice, for allegedly cheating its Nigerian subscribers by restricting them to prepaid plans.

Chairman of the committee, Unyime Idem, at an investigative hearing held in Abuja on Thursday, said that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had been summoned to explain why DSTV and other service providers refused to introduce pay-per-view.

Idem said, “Today, 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-per-view offer that other countries are giving to their subscribers.

“Why is it not implemented in Nigeria? We want to know your position as the regulator of this service providers. What are the bottlenecks? What are the constraints? What are the implications? Why are we not enjoying ‘pay as you go’ as subscribers to these service providers?”

MultiChoice says …

Meanwhile, MultiChoice has explained that there are some misconceptions about what Pay per View means.

The company’s spokesperson, Caroline Oghuma, told Nairametrics in an email interview a few months ago that it was not a service that enabled one to match consumption to subscription as was the case with a meter or mobile phone.

She said, “It is a type of pay television service by which a subscriber of a television service provider can purchase events to view via private broadcast. It usually applies to a one-off broadcast of high stakes games such as football, boxing and even wrestling matches.

“Pay per View service can be purchased via a cable or satellite TV provider as a non-refundable separate package in addition to a pre-existing subscription. An example of pay per view in action was the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight, aptly dubbed ‘The Money Fight’. In this case, subscribers had to each pay up to $100 for the bout in the US, and watch or not, the subscription ended with the 10 round fight.

“We broadcast the same boxing match to our Premium subscribers at no extra cost, and those who have Exploras were able to record the match and re-watch at another time. It is important to state that it is an expensive service to subscribe to. To date, no pay TV operation globally has a model based solely on pay as you view, as it is not a viable business model.”

She added that the company urged its customers to download DStv Now where they could watch all the content on their current subscription on the go, via phone or tablet. DStv Box-Office, a service available on the Explora decoder, enabled them to rent a movie at N400, for 2 days.

Previous probe

Meanwhile, members of the House had, on March 17, 2020, taken turns to criticise DSTV for refusing to introduce pay-per-view.

Consequently, the House had resolved to set up the committee to probe into the matter, with the mandate to invite Federal Government agencies regulating the industry, including the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and the Nigerian Communications Commission.

Again, on June 2, 2020, the House inaugurated an ad hoc committee to investigative the increment of subscription rates by Multichoice and other cable television service providers.

The committee, which the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, constituted and inaugurated, assured Nigerians of justice and fairness, saying that it would work towards making the providers adopt ‘pay per view’ system.

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