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Pay TV Subscribers Ask FG to Break Monopoly of Multichoice

Multichoice

Association of Telephone, Cable Tv and Internet Subscribers of Nigeria (ATCIS) has told the Federal Government, to break the monopoly of Multichoice in order to create a level playing field for others who wants to play in the sector.

Mr. Sina Bilesanmi, national president ATCIS, during a press conference in Lagos, said that the pay TV services which have consistently attracted hike in tariffs, is not in the best interest of his members.

Bilesanmi, said Multichoice, being the near monopolist in the sub-sector of the broadcast industry, has continued to hike its subscription fees unapologetically in Nigeria urging the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to borrow a leaf from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which has a consumer affairs department and has made the protection of consumers its priority.

He said that: “It’s unclear if the NBC’s sphere of supervision extends to that of the pay TV industry because if it does, the South African operator will not be taking everyone for a ride hiding under the excuse of an increase in content costs. We had sought the introduction of the GSM payment model but they said they lacked the technology to so do. Since the company said it cannot implement it, just like the two South African companies, MTN and Econet Wireless, said per second billing was a mirage until Globacom came to the scene, we passionately appeal to President Tinubu to look critically into how to break this monopoly. The government should create a level playing field. An operator must not be allowed to become too powerful.”

He advised the federal government to set up a committee to examine why attempts by indigenous operators to go into the pay TV industry is always frustrated.

“We demand for genuine liberalisation of the sector. We demand that the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) should beam its search light on the pay TV sector. For instance, subscribers should be able to roll over their subscriptions. Remember there was also a time in the history of GSM telephony in Nigeria when subscription was tied to a limited number of days.

“Whatever cash by way of airtime a subscriber had on his or her mobile phone was tied to a specific validity period. Because of the economic hardships occasioned by bold decisions, we, the pay TV subscribers demand a regime of roll over of our subscription. If any of our members subscribes and is unable use it, such a member should be able to use it any time he or she is available,” Bilesanmi stated.

Speaking on telecoms subscription, the ACTIS President said while subscriber figures have gone up, service quality has continued to be an issue.

“The quality has sunk further as the Yuletide approaches. Drop calls, network congestion, call diversion and so many others have increased. We urge the operators to up their games just as we appeal to the various approving agencies to give expedited approval to telcos to expand infrastructure across the country.”

He appealed to President Bola Tinubu to prevail upon the authorities of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, to grant approval to telcos to build a more resilient network. “We heard that for almost a decade, successive administrations at the FCT have refused to grant approval to telcos to build infrastructure.

Continuing, Bilesanmi explained that ATCIS as a group is aware of the operating challenges but nevertheless demand commensurate service quality with their spend.

“Three companies, MTN, Airtel and Mafab have rolled out services on the fifth generation (5G) technology in the country. While the first appears to be making an impact, not much has been heard from the other two, especially Mafab which launched in Abuja and later Lagos. 5G is no doubt expensive and it appears to be designed only for the rich and privileged. We say this because the cost of acquiring compatible devices are very punitive. For instance, a 5G router goes for as high as N50,000 in a country where the legislated minimum wage has remained N30,000. We therefore appeal to the Federal Government to intervene,” he stated.

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