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Senate queries ministry, NBC for failing toinstitutionalise pay-per-view payment system

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Abuja
23 September 2022   |   4:04 am
The Senate, yesterday, began investigation into the failure of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, as well as the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to institute the pay-per-view payment system in the industry, particularly for Pay TV operators.

MultiChoice

MultiChoice insists on monthly subscription
The Senate, yesterday, began investigation into the failure of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, as well as the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to institute the pay-per-view payment system in the industry, particularly for Pay TV operators.

Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee investigating the non-introduction of the pay-per-view system and Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, said the NBC had not lived up to expectations of Nigerians on the matter.

He stated that the law governing the industry had given enough powers to the Commission as a regulator to do the needful in the interest of Nigerians.

At the public hearing on ‘Pay-TV Hikes and Demand for Pay-per-view Subscription Model’, organised by the upper legislative chamber, several stakeholders argued that the payment system is not in the interest of consumers, adding that it will further hurt the economy.

HOWEVER, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Multichoice Nigeria, John Ugbe, maintained: “Pay television services compete with other services for subscribers’ disposable income, including existing broadcasting services (public, commercial free-to-air and other pay television services) and other entertainment services such as YouTube, Facebook, cinemas, video rental outlets and DVD retailers.”

He stated that the demand for pay television services fluctuates and remains very sensitive to the price a subscriber has to pay besides other affordability factors.

Justifying the monthly billing, Ugbe, who is also chairman of Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), said prices might be higher during December when subscribers have more discretionary income or are willing to spend more on entertainment and lower during other periods in the year.

“If the subscription fees are either too high or too low, the pay television service will fail. If the subscription fees are too high, the subscribers will unsubscribe or will not subscribe in the first place and the business will be unable to gain the critical mass necessary for its survival.

“Similarly, if the subscription fees are too low, the business will be unable to cover its expenses and will inevitably go insolvent,” he explained.

The committee submitted that while the Senate does not intend undermining freedom of operators, it was lamentable that, in a period of six years, the operators had increased tariffs by 55 percent.

“We need to have price regulation. Price increases need to be regulated. NBC, from all intent and purpose, the problem of the country when it comes to Pay TV,” Abdullahi stated.