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Nigerians react to alleged exploitation as Multichoice increases DStv, GOtv subscription charges

*Several concerned consumers of Multichoice’ products and services have urged subscribers to boycott the firm while petitioning the Federal Government, its market regulatory agencies, and the National Assembly to intervene and ‘save Nigerians from this exploitation’

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As Multichoice Nigeria, owners of DStv and GOtv, recently tariff increases in its new price bouquet expected to become effective from November 6, 2023, consumers have described the development as one price hike too many for the pay TV company.

ConsumerConnect reports  the South African-owned firm Wednesday, November 1, 2023, announced fresh price increments in its DStv and GOtv packages by about 20 percent across the board.

It is recalled this regime of tariff increases arguably, would be the third time this year after the first one it had announced and effected May 1, 2023.

Rationale for upward price adjustments, by Multichoice

The company, in a letter dated November 1 and addressed to its partners, had stated: “On Monday, November 6, 2023, we will adjust our prices across all our packages on DStv and GOtv.

“We understand the impact this challenge may have on our valued customers and partners, but the rise in the cost of business operations, had led us to make this difficult decision.”

Multichoice also noted: “It remains our mission to provide the best entertainment and viewing experience to our valued customers and are committed to continue to deliver high-quality content and unparalleled service to our customers.”

It was learnt in the new price list, for DStv, Premium bouquet, the price moved from N24,500 to N29,500; Compact+, from N16,600 to N19,800; Compact, from N10,500 to N12,500; Confam, from N6,200 to N7,400, among others.

However, for GOtv consumers, Supa+ price has increased from N10,500 to N12, 500; Supa moved from N6400 to N7,600; Max from N4850 to N5,700; Jolli, from N3,300 to N3,950, among others.

An official of MultiChoice, who spoke on anonymity to The Guardian neither confirmed nor denied the planned tariff hike.

The staff reportedly said: “I cannot say yes or no to the plan. But you know the situation of things in Nigeria, how the cost of doing business continues to go up without showing any plans to abate.”

Multichoice financials in Nigeria

Though blaming the rise in the cost of doing business in the West African country, MultiChoice, March 31, 2023, in its financial year end, reported that it generated N277 billion (ZAR9.1 billion) in subscriptions.

The company’s revenue, by implication, recorded 29 percent growth, compared to the N177.5 billion (ZAR7.1 billion) recorded in the previous year.

This contributed very significantly to the Multichoice Group’s overall revenue growth of seven percent, amounting to ZAR59.1 billion, report noted.

The company also noted in its report “notwithstanding liquidity constraints in Nigeria, the group managed to extract $235 million (FY22:$240m) at an average rate of NGN684:$ (FY22: NGN553:USD) during the year. Cash holdings of ZAR1.9 billion (FY22: ZAR2.3bn) held in Nigeria remain exposed to weaker currencies.”

It is also stated that in yearly results for the last financial year, MultiChoice group added 900,000 90-day active subscribers to close the year with 21.8 million subscribers, an increase of five per cent year-on-year (YoY).

The 90-day subscriber base comprises 12.8 million households (59 per cent) in the Rest of Africa and nine million households (41 per cent) in South Africa, according to report.

New price hike exploitative, say consumers

Nigerians, once more, have expressed their dissatisfaction as the Pay TV service provider, MultiChoice Nigeria, announced an upward review of prices on its DStv and GOtv packages with effect Monday, November 6.

Some subscribers, who said that they received an SMS from MultiChoice Wednesday, alerting them to the planned increases in subscription fees, according to report.

Scores of Nigerian consumers of the company’s products and services also have kicked against the latest move.

Many have argued the price increments  are coming at a time millions of Nigerians yet continue to struggle with the ripple effect of fuel subsidy removal, inability to have healthy meals due to jumping inflation, weakening value of the Naira, amidst Forex crises and insecurity, among other socio-economic issues in Nigeria.

Reacting to Multichoice subscription price increments, Sina Bilesanmi, President of Association of Telephone, Cable TV and Internet Subscribers of Nigeria (ATCIS), was quoted to have called for boycott of both DStv and GOtv by subscribers in Nigeria, stressing that the new price hike is exploitative in nature.

Bilesanmi contended it was the “fourth time” the operators would effect price hikes in 2023 in Nigeria.

He stated: “I cannot believe this is happening at this time. The brand is just exploiting the Nigerian market, all because no alternative yet!

“I will employ all Nigerians to boycott both DStv and GOtv services. I also call on President Tinubu, the National Assembly to step in and save Nigerians from this exploitation.”

According to him, ACTIS had met with President Tinubu August this year,  and demanded his intervention by asking these operators to give customers Pay Per View.

The consumer protection advocate recalled “he (President Tinubu) said we should give him time then. But I think the time is now for the entire country to rise against this exploitation by Multichoice.”

Bilesanmi also noted that the Association had written about 20 letters since 2020 to Multichoice on Pay Per View, and other issues in the industry, but the company feigned ignorance to these letters.

Nigerians’ push for pay-per-view option

Earlier April 2023, Nigerians also had reacted angrily to Multichoice increments in subscription tariffs for both DStv and GOtv packages.

The company in its message to consumers had stated: “Please note that from May 1, your monthly subscription (premium) will be N24,500. To retain your old price of N21,000 for up to 12 months, ensure you are active by April 30.”

One of the subscribers then, simply took to his social media page and wrote: “You’ll soon pack up.”

Another simply identified as Morene Ajike, an Abuja-based businesswoman, who reportedly asked: “Nigeria is a country of over 200 million people.

“How come its citizens depend solely on a foreign company to view soccer stations, African Magic and other entertainment channels? All these things still points to corruption.”

She also alleged: “Companies like Multichoice closes the mouth of our political leaders with bribe and extorts citizens.”

Likewise, Bilesanmi had said of the idea: “Yes, we are aware of the South African hike and know that it is a sign of what will happen in Nigeria.

“They will hide under the guise of spiraling inflation and others to hike tariffs. But we have always pushed for pay-per-view.

“And if they say they do not have the technology or precedent globally to implement that template, they should think about a technology that allows us to retain our subscription when we don’t use it.”

He further explained: “For instance, if I subscribe and I am unable to use my subscription either because I am not around or I do not have cash to fuel my generator, I should be able to use it or roll it over when I subscribe again.”

Again, several subscribers have asked how Multichoice can actually justify its claim of delivering value and accessible services to its Nigerian customers?

“Is it by making life unbearable and contributing to the hardship that is already killing the people.

“How can Multichoice say it acknowledges that the people of Nigeria are living under increased economic pressure and yet hit them harder with price hike?”

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