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Nigeria orders DSTV to suspend tariff hike, may enforce pay-per-view

NEWSMAN, Abuja – The Nigerian government has suspended the implementation of the newly hiked tariffs on different bouquets of the Multichoice-owned Digital Satellite Television, (DSTV).

The South Africa-based cable provider had announced plans via text messages to customers to implement the 7.5% hike in Nigeria’s Value Added Tax (VAT) from June 1, 2020.

 “Dear customer, please be informed that effective June 1, 2020, we will implement 7.5 per cent VAT on all DStv services. Visit www.dstvafrica.com to see your new pricing.” The message read.

A NEWSMAN investigation showed that DSTV Premium subscribers, who previously paid N15,800 will now pay N16,200; Compact Plus subscribers will pay N10,925 instead of N10,650. Those on Compact will pay- N6,975 as against the previous N6,800.

Also, customers on Confam bouquet will pay N4,615 against N4,500, while those on Yanga will from June 1 be made to pay N2,565; against the N2,500 previous payment. Those on Padi bouquet will pay additional N50 to put the price at N1,850; new prices on DSTV website showed.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had on June 2nd inaugurated an adhoc committee to investigate the hike of subscription rates by Multichoice and other cable television service providers which allegedly cheats Nigerian subscribers by restricting them to prepaid plans.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Unyime Idem, at the resumed investigative hearing last week, said the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was summoned to explain why DSTV and other service providers had refused to introduce pay as you view.

NBC Acting Director General, Armstrong Idachaba, while appearing before the committee on Tuesday said “I want to agree, with the Committee and call on DSTV to suspend the hike in tariffs”.

He agreed that this issue of high subscription rates imposed by Multichoice had been contentious over the years.

The minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, while also briefing the lawmakers announced that efforts are ongoing to break the monopoly of Multichoice in the country.

“Our amendments to the Broadcasting Act, will affect the break in the monopoly of Multichoice. Amendments to Section 628 of the Broadcasting Act, is in our broad national interest.” Mohammed stated.

– Nigerians react to DSTV tariff hike –

Aggrieved Nigerians have taken to social media to bemoan the increase in the price of subscription of satellite television on the Pay As You Go system as a result of the 2.5 per cent increase in VAT (from five to 7.5 per cent) which was made legal following the signing of the 2019 Finance Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The same reps that passed a bill increasing VAT, didn’t they think service providers would pass on the cost to their customers?” Twitter user @eyebuggy tweeted.

Many Nigerians want the introduction of pay-per-view like the prepaid meters of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) that is now massively being rolled out through electricity distribution companies across the country. The introduction of electricity meters have helped consumers to save more money due to the epileptic power supply in the country. They only pay what they consume hence the demand on DSTV and other satellite television operators to embrace the pay-per-view technology.

“Same way we know prepaid meters are cheaper. They should bring pay-per-view option with the regular (estimated) monthly billing…. Let the people have the power of choice” @ChubbyDaniels tweeted.

“Same with PHCN…Since I started paying for the light I use…I am now at peace…..DSTV…pay per view is the best option”. @Katunghassan also tweeted

– DSTV’s huge market in Nigeria –

An investigation shows that Multichoice has about 13.9 million subscribers across Africa, with Nigeria accounting for 40 per cent of the customers, a report by The Guardian showed.

“Empower local brands and reduce tax and all protocols, then you won’t be giving DSTV the chance to be discussed about on our federal floor!!!”, Twitter user, @accops231 wrote.

In the mean time, about 1.41 million new telecoms subscribers have been added to the networks in Nigeria.

The additions took place between January and February this year, federal communications regulatory authorities said. By this development, active telecoms subscribers increased from 186 million to 187.4 million.

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