The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday, constituted a seven-man ad hoc committee to investigate the hike in the tariffs imposed on subscribers by pay-tv service providers operating in Nigeria.
The Senate has also asked all cable television service providers to immediately review their bouquet prices downwards, in tandem with the prevailing reality of the economic situation in Nigeria.
Lawan, while announcing members of the committee chaired by the Deputy Majority Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, tasked the panel with carrying out a comprehensive probe into how pay-tv service providers impose bills on subscribers in other countries.
Members of the committee include Senators Sulaiman Kwari, Oluremi Tinubu, Yusuf Yusuf, Lekan Mustapha, Chukwuka Utazi, Akon Eyakenyi.
The Senate had earlier kicked against the increase in tariffs by MultiChoice Nigeria, owners of DStv.
A member, Senator Abba Moro, had moved a motion titled ‘Nigerians Dumbfounded, Outraged Over Pay-TV Tariff Hikes, Demand for Pay-Per-View Subscription model.’
Moro noted the concern and uproar in the public over tariff hikes by service providers on their bouquets.
The lawmaker made reference to DStv which told its Compact bouquet subscribers on August, 22 2020, to expect a 13.3 per cent price increase to N7,900, up from N6, 975, with effect from September 1, 2020.
Moro decried that the Compact plus was jacked up by 9.8 per cent, from N10,925 to N12,000; and Premium from N16, 200 to N18,400, indicating a 13.6 per cent hike.
He said: “MultiChoice Nigeria willfully and perpetually increases the cost of its bundles because there is no regulation whatsoever in the area of fixing rates.”
“As usual, without recourse to the economic situation of the country, MultiChoice has again raised the cost of its DStv and GOtv bundles, stating them as follows: DStv Premium (N21,000), Compact (N14,250), Compact (N9, 000), Confam (N5, 300), Yanga (N2, 950), Padi (N2, 150), Business(N2, 669), Xtraview PVR access fee (N2, 900).
“Those of GOtv are as follows: GOtv Max (N4,150), GOtv Jolli (N2, 6669), GOtv Jinja (N1, 900), GOtv Lite (N900).”
The lawmaker expressed concern that thousands of pay-tv subscribers in Nigeria have bitterly reacted to the development on different social media platforms, ranging from deep shock to pure outrage with many asking the Nigerian government to checkmate the activities of pay-tv service providers in Nigeria, especially in the area of fixing prices.
Moro added that among the bitter complaints of Nigerian subscribers of pay-tv services was the poor network service experienced as a result of bad weather/ epileptic electricity supply, which sometimes makes a whole month subscription wasteful without the subscriber watching anything before the expiration.
According to him, Nigerians are demanding that, rather than paying fixed rates for packages monthly, pay-tv service providers should introduce a subscription model which allows subscribers to pay per view to enable them to match their TV consumption to subscription, as is the case with electricity metering and mobile telephony.
The lawmaker explained that the pay-per-view that Nigerian subscribers are demanding is a flexible model plan of subscription which allows subscribers of pay-tv to pay-per-watch, to avoid paying for services that they do not consume.
Adopting the motion, the Senate urged the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission to direct all pay-tv providers to introduce a pay-per-view model of subscription as against the monthly prepaid model presently in place.
The Senate also directed all pay-tv service providers in Nigeria to immediately review their bouquet prices downwards in tandem with the prevailing reality of the economic situation in the country.
It also resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to embark on the full-scale investigation of the pricing activities of DStv in Nigeria to bring it in line with international practices.
Efforts previously made by the House of Representatives to ensure the introduction of pay-per-view by DStv and other cable services had failed.
The House had set up and mandated the panel on March 17, 2020, to investigate DSTV and other cable television service providers in Nigeria.
The House had, again on June 2, passed another resolution, mandating the panel to invite DSTV to explain its tariff increment on June 1.