“There’s No Law Regulating Prices Charged By Cable Television Operators” -NBC

The Deputy Director, of Research and Policy at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr. Anete Onyebuchi, has said that Nigeria has no law to either regulate or control the prices being charged by cable television operators in Nigeria.

Onyebuchi made this known while representing the agency’s DG before the Senate Ad hoc Committee at a one-day public hearing investigating pay TV hikes and demand for the pay-per-view subscription model in Nigeria.

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The Ad hoc committee chaired by the Senate Deputy Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, explained that the investigation became necessary after various packages of Multi Choice bouquet had been increased by 80 per cent in the last five years.

Abdullahi noted that the development was not in the interest of the subscribers especially when a court had cautioned Multi Choice against carrying out its latest increment which it introduced on March 30 this year.

The Chief Executive Officer, MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe, who said the several legal and legislative moves made to compel the firm to operate the per-view model would not work because it is difficult to implement.

According to him “whilst it may appear to be a noble intent for this committee to be concerned over the rising cost of subscription services, the pay-per-view (PPV) model being clamored for by this Committee will not work either to the benefit of the consumer or the industry.

“It would appear that this problem is because of some confusion in understanding the basic definitions and distinctions between some of the existing operational business models in telecommunications and pay-TV broadcasting.

“A pay-per-view is not the same and is very different from Pay As You Go (PAYG).

“The PPV model allows a subscriber to watch some special one-off events, usually of the high-ticket variety in sports and entertainment, by paying for such events in addition to having an active subscription.

“Pay-As-You-Go accommodates a metered mode of service where consumers are billed only for the service they consume and not for a fixed period.”

“The desire by this Committee to adopt PPV is further challenged by the non-existence of any technology that can detect or determine the viewers that are tuned in per time.

“Once it is impossible to have this knowledge, billings based on “per view” become difficult if not almost impossible.

Reacting differently the duo of Dr Bright Echeffe, the Chief Executive Officer of TSTV and Tunde Aina, Chief Operating Officer of Startimes, said cable TV operators could adopt pay-per-day model to ameliorate the pains of poor subscribers.

The TSTV boss said, “Pay-per-view is not feasible but we came up with pay-per-day. We also allow our subscribers to choose the package based on the number of channels they want to watch.”

The panel chairman assured the stakeholders that the Senate had not taken a position on the matter and that the report would be based on the memorandum they had submitted to the panel.

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