The House of Representatives yesterday asked the federal government to give marching order to the Broadcast Satellite Service providers, particularly DSTV, to reverse the recent June 1, 2020, subscription price hike, and revert to the old price.
The House Ad-hoc Committee investigating the non-implementation of the pay-as-you-go tariff by Broadcast Satellite Service Providers in Nigeria made this known at a hearing, saying there is no going back on the decisions of the parliament.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Uyime Idem, stated that this was not the best of times to increase the prices of services no matter the reasons for such increase, taking into consideration the ravaging effect of COVID-19 on the economy of Nigerians.
He urged the federal government to come up with a strategy to break the monopoly and open up the industry for larger participation.
The lawmaker also asked the federal government to implement Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) tariff regime for the digital TV broadcasting in Nigeria with particular reference to DSTV, GOTV, Startimes and Kwese TV.
The committee further called on the federal government to ensure the deregulation of content right by Direct-to-Home (DTH) Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) operators, and encourage local content participation through content sharing.
Responding to lawmakers questions on various issues raised, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the pay-as-you-go model is achievable in Nigeria, and a pay TV provider, Startimes, is already offering it, thereby puncturing the fallacy that it is not possible.
He stressed that all that’s required is that the existing content should be taken back to the drawing board to accommodate the PAYG options.
According to Mohammed, “When I became minister some years ago, I was seriously concerned about the issue of monopoly. We did include it in the amended new broadcasting code, which I just signed following due process, as a draft was submitted to me. All the stakeholders who went through it went to Lagos and it was approved.
‘’On DSTV reversing the price hike, from the outset of COVID-19, one of the first thing we did with the ministry and NBC was to provide succour to broadcasters, I think we suspended payments for the initial two months to all broadcasters so that they will be able to absorb the impact of COVID-19, therefore it will be unfair for those for whom we have suspended payment to also at the same time increase their own fees. I’m sure that the director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) will take up this matter.”
The acting Director-General of NBC, Armstrong Idachaba, on his part assured the lawmakers that he would give a marching order to DSTV to halt any action on price hike and go back to the old tariff.