In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Monday, DStv subscribers pleaded with the Federal Government to enact a law to compel MultiChoice to introduce “pay-as-you-view billing’’ system.
The subscribers said that there was a need for such billing system, as it would ensure value for the subscription.
Recall that in July 2018, Multichoice announced its hike in subscription rates.
On July 9, 2018, Multichoice sent text messages to subscribers notifying them of a hike in rates from August 1.
According to the price hike announcement, DSTV premium package will go for N 15,800 rather than the old rate of N14,700; Compact Plus from N9,900 to N10,650; Compact from N6,300 to N6,800; Family from N3,800 to N4,000, and Access from N1,900 to N2,000.
The new price regime was going to take effect from August 1, 2018, DSTV announced.
Soon after DSTV increased prices of its bouquets, the CPC led by its Director General, Babatunde Irukera, ran to court to stop the hike.
On August 20, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja stopped Multichoice Nigeria Limited from executing its initial plan of increase in DStv subscription fees.
The court also restrained MultiChoice from any act that could interfere with the regulatory process of the CPC.
Why did CPC sue Multichoice?
CPC said by suing Multichoice, it wasn’t about to regulate price for a corporate organisation or trample on the concept of free market.
CPC said; “The council did not intend to regulate price or in any way interfere with the commercial interface between Multichoice and its customers in fixing price”
CPC explained that by increasing its subscription rates, DSTV had breached an agreement it reached with the Nigerian government after its price hike of 2015.
That agreement, CPC said, was called a Joint Consent Order.
What is this Joint Consent Order?
Here is an explanation of what Joint Consent Order is according to CPC;
“Over a period of time during which mutual concerns and reservations were addressed, the Council and Multichoice agreed and adopted a Proposed Mutual Joint Consent Order.
The terms and obligations included an unopposed and undisputed requirement and understanding that Multichoice will not charge, revise or modify any material term or conditions of service(s) for a period of 24 months”
“Multichoice never expressed any concerns or dissatisfaction with this clause of the Consent Order that required Multichoice to maintain status quo on its Terms and Conditions (which naturally includes pricing) for the 24-month period”.
Basically, what CPC was saying is that it had reached an agreement with Multichoice not to increase subscription rates for 24 months. However, while waiting for the execution of this agreement, Multichoice without informing CPC, increased subscription rates.
CPC added that what Multichoice did amounted to “bad faith” and “undermined both the Council and its regulatory process”.
According to CPC, that was why it rushed to court to stop Multichoice immediately from implementation of the new price regime.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba granted CPC’s prayers which sought to stop Multichoice from executing and altering a modification of the material term of its contract with its customers”.
The court also asked that the status quo be maintained, which means old subscription rates should be reverted to.
What was DSTV’s response?
Let’s just say DSTV was reluctant about reverting to old subscription rates.
The press statement from DSTV reads: “Multichoice Nigeria received an interim court order dated 20 August from the Federal High Court regarding the price adjustment that we implemented on 1 August 2018.
“We believe that the order is an affront to the free market economy and we have now filed a Notice of Appeal and an application for stay of execution, pending the hearing of the Appeal. The CPC has been accordingly served with the requisite processes.
“In light of the application for a stay of execution, the status quo therefore prevails.
“We remain committed to providing the best quality of entertainment and premium content at the best possible prices.”
Basically, DSTV was saying it has filed an appeal against Justice Dimgba’s judgment and that until that appeal is heard, customers will keep paying the new subscription rates which kicked off on August 1.
In light of everything, DSTV never made mention Of entering an agreement not to hike rates for 24 months, with CPC.
Where did that leave you as a subscriber?
Well, DSTV hasn’t reverted to pre-August 1 prices and the new rates still apply for all subscribers.
Recently, Shareholders of multichoice owners of DSTV are worried over the Federal Government of Nigeria directive to the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to ensure that no platform has exclusive sporting rights in Nigeria.
“The Federal Ministry of information and Culture issues new regulations prohibiting exclusivity of sporting rights in Nigeria. Broadcasters and exclusive licensees now mandated to share such rights with other broadcasters to boost reach and also maximise utilisation by all broadcasters of premium content.
“The Federal Ministry of information and Culture issues new regulations to ensure that producers of content are paid promptly for adverts and sponsored content placed on all TV, radio and broadcast platforms; and to ensure that the production of adverts are localized to create and promote local capacity.
Now that DSTV may not be having premium content to itself, Nigerians may likely not pay so much for so little.