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Subscribers allege exploitation as DStv service tariffs rise



Multichoice blames increasing satellite, channel and operational cost

THE planned April 1, 2015 increase in Digital Satellite Television (DStv) tariffs by MultiChoice Africa may not go down well with subscribers in Nigeria, as those who spoke with The Guardian signaled boycotting the company and its service should it be implemented.

   MultiChoice Africa, the parent company of DStv, which has about two million subscribers in Nigeria, had on March 3 announced a price increase for DStv, which takes effect from April 1.

  The price increase will set the DStv premium, which is currently at $77/monthly to $81/monthly. This will take the naira equivalent from N11, 650 to N13, 980.

  The increment is the same across other DStv packages and bouquets, and between five to 10 per cent increase, but comes with ShortsTV, Ginx TV and Eurochannel as additional channels.

   Some of subscribers, who spoke to The Guardian at the weekend, said they are not just prepared for any tariff hike now and may simply boycott DStv, unless the company reverts to the old rate.

  They claimed that the South African company is just milking Nigerians with government doing nothing to curtail its monopoly.

   A Lagos based engineer, Taofik Salaudeen, who is a premium subscriber, claimed that the company just takes decisions without regard to its subscribers, stressing that this was due to the lack of competition and the monopolistic tendencies of the South African firm.

   Olarenwaju Kehinde, who claimed to be an active user of DStv services since 2004 said the company, during the initial years of its service to Nigerians, was satisfactory,  but that as time went by  it appeared to lose focus, “perhaps as patronage increased.”

   Kehinde lamented that no subscribers would take DStv serious on this new hike, “not at a time the everything has skyrocketed in Nigeria, especially now with the devaluation of the Naira that has spurred major increase everywhere.

 I think they got it wrong this time around. 

They will loose market to competition if they go ahead and carry out the hike. The timing is   completely wrong.”

   He also lamented the payment mode and advised DStv to review its method, which he said has been discouraging many users for renewal.

  Ngozi Ejike, another DStv subscriber, said the cost of subscribing to the company before the new hike was already a huge burden “and now they planned another increase. Well, lets see how far they can go.”

   Speaking to The Guardian, President, Consumer Rights Advancement Organisation (CRADO), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo said  his  organization will write to the Consumer Protection Council and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) this week on why such hike should not stand.

    “I think they want to monopolise the market because we have not seen reasons for the hike. We shall write both CPC and NBC this week because we have not seen any reason for hike, most importantly because the market is here in Nigeria. Even in South Africa, the market is not there. In fact they are number three. So we see no reason why they should foist an unjustifiable hike in tariff on Nigerians.”

  Ogunbanjo who is also the President, National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) said he sometimes wonders if it was because of the love for football in Nigeria that is instigating some rash decisions from the South African firm.   

   A Zimbabwean in the country, Rapula Kegopilwe, said, “#BoycottDStv should start trending. The market now should be consumer power against monopoly power.”

   Another subscriber, Ayo Sogunro, said on Twitter, “I can’t boycott water. I can’t boycott air. I can’t even boycott Nigeria. But I can boycott DStv.”

   Sogunro said, “You know how you hate it when bus drivers increase prices almost by 100 per cent when it is raining? That is what DStv is doing,” adding that, 

“As a Nigerian citizen living in Nigeria you deserve to be treated with respect by all foreign companies operating here.”

  MultiChoice Nigeria however, said the subscription price increase  on all DStv bouquets was necessitated by increasing satellite, channel and operational costs.

    The Public Relations Manager at MultiChoice Nigeria, Ms. Caroline Oghuma, in a statement sent to The Guardian, yesterday, said the increase was not only in Nigeria, but also in every country where MultiChoice has its operations.

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