TV pay bill: MultiChoice , others kick against pay as you go 

A major cable television firm, MultiChoice and other stakeholders, told the Senate Thursday that the pay per view model being canvassed by it  as against the current monthly billing, was difficult to implement.

They stated this at a one-day public hearing organised by the Senate adhoc Committee investigating Pay-tv hikes and demand for the pay-per view subscription model in Nigeria.

In his presentation, the Chief Executive Officer, MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe, said several legal and legislative moves made to compel the firm to operate per view model did not work because it was not feasible. 

Ugbe said, “Whilst it may appear to be a noble intent for this Committee to be concerned over the rising cost of subscription services; however, the Pay-Per- View (PPV) model being canvassed 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 PPV 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 nonexistence of any technology that can detect and or determine the viewers are tuned in per time. 

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

“It is therefore my humble submission to this distinguished committee that due to the nature of content acquisition and technological limitations that PAYG model is not practical for broadcasting and thus is not practiced and basically cannot be implemented anywhere in the world.”

Another stakeholder, Emeka Mba, said the issues of Pay-Per-View(PPV) and Pay-TVpricing, have been the subject of several investigations by the National Assembly, the regulatory agencies and courtsin the past.

Mba said in 2015, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, dismissed a suit by two Lagos based legal practitioners, seeking an order for the reversal of MultiChoice price increase. 

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

Echeffe 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 numbers of channels they wanted to watch.”

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North),  said the Senate set up the adhoc panel based on a motion approved by the Senate at plenary. 

He said the motion stated  that various packages of the multichoice bouquet had been increased by 80 per cent in the last five years.

The development he added, was not in the best interest of the subscribers especially when a Court had cautioned the Multi Choice against carrying out its latest increment which it introduced on March 30 this year. 

He 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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