…subscribers threaten to boycott monthly renewal
Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DStv and GoTV, is planning a reduction of between 11 and 21 per cent in its monthly DStv subscription in several African countries, excluding Nigeria, effective November 1, The Point investigation has revealed.
The Point’s findings also revealed that DStv plans to add several exciting channels to the lower-tiered bouquets in the said countries to boost content offering for cheaper packages and add content value.
Countries that would benefit from the offer include Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Multichoice is neglecting Nigeria, its biggest market in the proposed price slash. Some of the new channels the subscribers in these countries would enjoy include sister channel to Telenovela, Eva+; pop-up M-Net channels, M-Net Movies, BlockParty and Harry Potter, among others.
Some Nigerian subscribers to DStv, who spoke with The Point in separate interviews, disclosed that they would stop their subscriptions if the company embarked on what they described as ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’
Engr. Toba Biobaku, one of the numerous subscribers of DStv, alleged that the company is allergic to providing good services its Nigerians subscribers at affordable prices.
To Biobaku, a manager in one of the construction companies in the country, Multichoice has passion for fleecing Nigerians, without giving them value for their money.
Despite the current economic recession, he stated that several Nigerians still renew their monthly subscriptions and the reward they could get from Multichoice is to use their monies to reward subscribers in other African nations, leaving Nigerians subscibers in the lurch.
Nigeria is its biggest market and should be the most favoured or serviced nation. Without any doubt, most of the foreign companies operating in Nigeria have sabotaged our economy deliberately
“When Multichoice bowed to pressures from consumers and the Consumers Protection Council recently, when it introduced a customer care toll free lines easily, I knew that the company has a hidden agenda. The most painful part of it is that most of us are being cheated without compensation, as it always fail to clear the E-16 code from our decoders for a week. When the error was erased later, my subscription was not extended,” he lamented.
Another subscriber, perturbed about the plan of the operator of the pay TV service, is the Managing Director of Jumobite Fashion, Mrs Jumobi Odusola. The premium subscriber of DStv threatened to lead a peaceful protest to the Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos headquarters of the company, along with some of her friends, who are also premium subscribers.
To her, the tariff of the bouquet is too expensive, compared to what other subscribers in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Botswana pay. According to her, asking Nigerians viewers to pay more for few channels while asking their counterparts in those countries to pay less for more channels is absurd and a way of saying Nigerians are gullible.
“Nigeria is its biggest market and should be the most favoured or serviced nation. Without any doubt, most of the foreign companies operating in Nigeria have sabotaged our economy deliberately. We should stop deceiving ourselves that South African, Chinese and American companies in Nigeria are here to develop our economy. They are attracted by our population and they are only after their interest alone. DStv does not want us to develop our pay TV industry and that is the reason most of the indigenous firms have packed up. It does not want us to compete with their products because it also has billions of jobless people to look after in South Africa. If we stop viewing their channels, it would be frustrated out of our country,” Mrs Odusola argued.
SUBSCRIBER BASE MIGHT DROP FURTHER
There are indications that hundreds of thousands of Nigerian subscribers of the pay TV firm might not renew their monthly subscription, if the company embarks on the fee slash for other African country and leave Nigeria out of the beneficiaies.
The Point also found out that the company makes an average of about N8 billion from its over 4 million Nigerian patrons every month and about N80 billion as turnover every year.
A top source close to the management of Multichoice Nigeria, who pleaded anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, told The Point that the company decided to slash fees in the designated countries after it observed that about 40 per cent of its subscribers had refused to renew their subscriptions due to economic recession that bites harder there, compared to Nigeria, which has been recently rated the biggest economy in the continent.
“The stiff DStv price hikes put subscribers under pressure in those countries and we have lost about 300,000 subscribers in the countries in one year, as people could no longer afford the service or no longer saw it as valuable enough. When reviewing our packages and prices in each country, we take into account local dynamics such as inflation, content costs, foreign exchange rates, local taxes and overheads required for each business.
“To compensate our Nigerian viewers, we will introduce more amazing channels to the existing entertaining programmes. We have also embarked on aggressive marketing and follow up innovation to ensure most of our subscribers do not abandon their bouquets. We call subscribers a few days to the expiration of their subscriptions to remind them about the reasons they should not miss out of the global village,” she revealed.
INSTEAD OF SUFFERING IN SILENCE, REPORT TO CPC, FG – LAWYERS
But in a quick response, a business lawyer, Barr. Seun Adewole, stated that while most Nigerians suffer in silence, foreign companies like Multichoice ripped them off of their hard earned money. Aside from the fact that he also believed it is wrong for an international company to set double standards for its patrons, he told The Point that subscribers should fight for their rights, using legal means by questioning the decisions of the firm, sending complaints to regulatory agencies like the Consumers’ Protection Council and the Federal Ministry of Communication and Technology.
“Sending complaints to the National Assembly had proven to be a waste of time and resources. Similar issues had been discussed on the floor of the Assembly, but none had yielded any desired result as it appears that gifts exchange hands after a lot of noise had been made by the lawmakers.
“For instance, the House of Representatives had debated on the pay as you view initiative for years and nothing has been done about it and I am not surprised that the company had excluded Nigerians from the beneficiaries of the price slash,” he stated.
Efforts to get the Public Relations Manager, MultiChoice Nigeria limited, Ms Caroline Oghuma, were frustrated as she did not respond to the telephone calls and text messages sent by the correspondent.