By Dipo Olowookere
Nigerians may have to start gearing up to pay more in this harsh economy if they wish to continue accessing television contents from popular PayTV provider, DSTV.
This hint was dropped recently by the General Manager, Sales and Marketing of MultiChoice Nigeria, Mr Martin Maputo.
MultiChoice Nigeria is the parent company of DSTV, which has provided interesting contents to Nigerians for many years, including the English Premier League (EPL).
Checks by Business Post revealed that since the country went into recession, some Nigerians have found it difficult to do some things, including paying for monthly DSTV subscriptions and others.
Prices of goods in the market have skyrocketed especially due to the exchange rate of the Naira against the Dollar, forcing some to cut down on their spending. Jobs have been lost during the period and some companies forced to lay off workers.
Speaking recently, Mr Maputo warned that subscription fees in Nigeria may go up if the foreign exchange (forex) problem facing the country was not addressed by the government.
He said currently, DStv is trying as much as possible to avoid any price increase but instead concentrating on upgrading its contents across all bouquets, but maintained that if government fails to curtail the forex crisis, which has made it more expensive for the company to buy foreign content, especially the EPL, it might be forced to consider price increase.
“Most of the content we buy such as EPL and others from abroad are dominated in Pounds and Dollars.
“So, we are not only operating in the market but also responding to the market. At this stage, we are trying as much as we can to avoid any price increase but if there is nothing done to curtail the forex issues, we might be forced to increase (our subscription fees),” Mr Maputo said in Lagos while unveiling new content upgrade on all DStv bouquets.
Business Post learned that Mr Maputo’s warning is coming when MultiChoice has already reduced subscription rates in other African countries.
From November 1, 2016, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi and other countries in Africa started paying reduced monthly subscription fees on DStv and GOtv bouquets.
According to the Nation, his may be a response to the harsh economic realities sweeping across the continent.
For example in Uganda, the company announced about 15 percent cut in subscription fees, in a move to entice more customers amid weak economic realities.
MultiChoice Uganda Public Relations and Communications Manager, Ms Tina Wamala, was quoted to have said, “We are facing hard economic times not just as a company but also our customers,” just as its General Manager, Mr Charles Hamya, was also quoted to have explained in a statement that, “This significant price drop, coupled with the major boost in entertainment value across all DStv bouquets demonstrates our commitment to ensuring DStv customers receive the best possible access to great entertainment and outstanding value.”
Also in Malawi, MultiChoice announced a drop in DStv subscription rates.
It was reported that under the reduction regime, DStv Premium in Malawi is down to K55,600 from K61,100, Compact Plus is at K35,700 from K42,000, Compact is at K22,300 from K23,800 while Family is reduced to K12,700 from K16,700.
“MultiChoice’s priority is to put customers at the heart of our business and that is why the whole of this year, despite the economic challenges the country is facing, we did not increase our subscription prices.
“It’s been 20 years that we have been doing business in Malawi and we strive to do business differently and that is why tonight’s press briefing is named ‘Business Unusual’,” its Marketing Manager, Chimwemwe Nyirenda, was quoted by the Nation to have said during a press briefing at Atmosphere Restaurant in Blantyre.
However in South Africa, the home country of the company, there would not be a hike in the subscription fee.
“We review the DStv prices once a year when we do our business planning – our prices for next year will be announced before April 1, 2017.
“When reviewing our packages and pricing in each country, we take into account local dynamics such as inflation, content costs, foreign exchange rates, local taxes and overheads required for each business.
“We’ve done a lot of research into what pay-TV costs in other parts of the world, and we believe that DStv offers good value for money in the countries in which it operates.
“In South Africa, we’ve implemented a number of cost-saving options for our customers – those who pay annually receive one month free, and our Price Lock packages enable customers to freeze their package price for two years,” MultiChoice South Africa reportedly said.
The Nation also reports that “the firm is alleged to be making an average of about N8 billion from its over 4 million subscribers every month in Nigeria and about N80 billion as turnover per year.”
Business Post recalls that in April 2015, Nigerians vehemently kicked against hike in the subscription fees of DSTV.
The matter even went to court and a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos restrained MultiChoice Nigeria Limited from going on with its new rates and increase in tariffs payable by its subscribers across board.
The restraining order was given by Justice C.J. Aneke following a suit filed, with number FHC/L/CS/404/2015, by two Lagos-based lawyers, Mr Osasuyi Adebayo and Oluyinka Oyeniji.
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