The Federal Government has revealed plans to end the monopoly enjoyed by cable television service providers, especially Digital Satellite Television, owned by MultiChoice, a South Africa-based company.
The plan is said to include ending exclusive rights to sporting events.
Only DStv currently broadcasts major football competitions in Nigeria, especially the English Premier League.
The government said it had amended Nigeria’s broadcasting code to prevent DStv and others from monopolising their channels and contents.
The House has been probing DStv for allegedly cheating its Nigerian subscribers by restricting them to prepaid plans and increasing its subscription rates on June 1, 2020, despite the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown on the people.
At the continuation of the investigative hearings organised by an ad hoc committee of the House on the matter in Abuja on Tuesday, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had dismissed claims by DStv that pay-per-view was not proper for the Nigerian market.
Mohammed noted that StarTimes, the cable arm of the Nigerian Television Authority, was already operating for some years.
In an audio recording obtained by our correspondent, Mohammed could be heard responding to questions from the lawmakers.
The minister said, “On the issue of increase in price for subscribers, with the onset of COVID-19, one of the first things we did in the ministry with the NBC (National Broadcasting Commission) was to provide succour to broadcasters.
“We suspended payment for the initial two months to all broadcasters so that they would be able to absorb the impact of COVID-19. Therefore, it will be unfair for those for whom we have suspended payment to also at the same time increase their own fees. And I’m sure that the DG of NBC will take up this matter.”
Earlier, Chairman of the committee, Mr Unyime Idem, asked Mohammed and the acting Director General of the NBC, Armstrong Idachaba, to order DStv to suspend its recent rates’ increment.
Mohammed immediately ordered the Idachaba to issue the notice.
However, multichoice DSTV’s parent company is considering not to renew its premiership and UEFA Champions League broadcast rights when they expire”. The deteriorated naira value and the fact that DSTV cannot increase rates even as its raw material price is increasing are reasons noted. If MultiChoice follows that path, and does not renew, Nigerians may now depend on NTA, the national TV station, and the government for this luxury product.
ThisDay reported on Thursday that a source from the satellite TV company revealed how financial losses are forcing it to make the difficult decision not to renew for the 2021/22 football season.
The development was attributed to Nigerian business environment that has yielded low patronage, which does not make up for the cost of broadcast rights which the company said is exorbitant. Moreover, the free fall of naira against the dollar is said to have compounded the situation.