Is the Nigerian government to blame for the hike in DStv’s tariffs?

NEDC

The House of Representatives has, again, summoned the management of DStv over an increment of the cable television’s subscription tariffs on June 1. It was on June 27th that the panel initially called the attention of the South African cable company over their exorbitant price hike. The ad-hoc committee set up by the house of reps also went further to demand a pay-as-you-go plan by the cable providers for Nigerians.

Before the introduction of DStv in Nigeria, television entertainment was just about tuning in and watching available terrestrial channels with their respective broadcast qualities. But with the launch of Multichoice’s DStv in 1996, television started to build a culture and started a gradual change of the narrative with the demand for more and better quality in broadcast – and of course, that doesn’t go without expecting a high cost.

While at the time, DStv was mostly enjoyed by the rich, the introduction of other PayTV options in the 2000s broke the monopoly and allowed more Nigerians to benefit from the service. With all these services and what they offered, also came the question – “Just how much should one be paying to watch good TV?”

In this update, the House Ad-hoc Committee investigating the non-implementation of ‘Pay As You Go’ Tariff has asked DStv, to appear before it next Tuesday. The news has raised questions that are colossally pensive for both viewers and the ad-hoc committee.

Nigerians are making a case against the committee as many are sharing their reservations as it concerns the news. While it seems that the federal government is fighting for the interest of Nigerians, a few Nigerians have flagged the summoning of DStv as ‘misplaced priorities’. For many, there are certain things that are not yet in place that the federal government is yet to see as reason enough for the hike in price.

DSTV price
Source: The Cable (June 2020)

In an infographic made available by The Cable, DStv tariffs in Nigeria is not the highest when compared to other African countries. And in these other countries, there isn’t so much turmoil over the prices when compared to the drama that the DStv pricing has continued to stir up in Nigeria.

In May, Multichoice, the owners of DStv and GOtv, revealed that rates would go up in Nigeria. Following the report, Nigerians took to social media to share their displeasure on the news, as many tagged it as insensitive during a pandemic.  John Ugbe, chief executive officer of Multichoice, however, said the company did not increase subscription rates, stating it was only an adjustment to reflect the increase in value-added tax (VAT) in Nigeria which jumped from 5% to 7.5%.

Just last week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also updated that the Naira depreciated against the  dollar at  the Investors and  Exporters (I&E) window. These are factors to consider in the case some Nigerians are making against the committee which is posing as having the interest of Nigerians at heart.

One argument that many Nigerians hold against DStv is that the company is exploiting Nigerians, making them pay more than they should, even when the epileptic power supply in the country does not allow customers to enjoy maximum value for subscribed plans – hence the need for a pay-as-you-go plan.

DStv had shared that it doesn’t have the technology to meet their demands yet. The issue still remains: How has the Nigerian government made it easy for businesses to thrive in Nigeria?

Foreign businesses that have left Nigeria over the years always complain that it is not easy to maintain their businesses in Nigeria – and this is seemingly the case with Multichoice. Nigerians who have berated the government on the summoning of the cable providers are stressing that the federal government has a history of focusing on the wrong things.

The price of DStv tariffs is not the only thing that has increased in this period. The Nigerian government should also be focused on other serious issues. For example, epileptic power could be considered as one of the reasons why Nigerians may not be getting the most out of their subscriptions. The government should be focused on all the reasons that are leading up to the increase in prices of products and services rather than feeling entitled in issuing policies that frustrate foreign businesses and investors who are interested in the Nigerian market.

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