MultiChoice (DSTv) Tariffs And The Rest Of Us By Adetomiwa Olatoye

I need not begin to introduce to the readers that the biggest singular cable-service provider in Nigeria is the MultiChoice DSTv. I would also not need to remind the readers that MultiChoice DSTv have increased tariffs arbitrarily in the past without consideration to the rest of us and they have infact made tariff increment a yearly affair. I do not need to remind us that the even the service delivered to us under the current arrangement is below par (when compared to the service enjoyed in the outside world) despite the acrimoniously heavy tariffs – please share with me what happens to your service at the slightest indication of a rainfall. Share with me how many minutes you have to wait for the decoder/service to come back up when there is rain downpour. I do not need to remind us that our leaders have done nothing about this insensitivity and that they will do nothing about it, despite the fact that most of them are supposedly well-travelled.

My job today is to throw open to us the exploitative nature of the billing system adopted by MultiChoice DSTv in Nigeria and deception sold to the rest of us overtime. Same MultiChoice DSTv is a South African company and they run pay-as-you-watch (which I will henceforth refer to as PAYW in this write-up) over there. I am aware that’s the system run in Europe as well, to a larger percentage. The question bothering the minds of most Nigerians is why can’t this billing system be implemented here in Nigeria. Why is this so difficult? The current system being implemented is a complete a rip-off and smacks of cooperate cheating. Look at this way. I am here in my office at the moment, nobody is in my house right now because my wife is also at work and my kids have gone to school, hence my house is currently devoid of a living soul and so the Tv is not on, yet my bill is running. That is completely outrageous. Think about it. MultiChoice DSTv is taking serious advantage of the Nigerian situation. It becomes more appalling and more nerve-wrecking when you realize that our leaders and policy-makers make no concerted effort to correct this imbalance, despite their claims to being well-travelled.

Matter-of-factly, DSTV subscription in Nigeria is pre-paid anyways. Interpretation – you cannot enjoy the service without paying first. My interaction with people shows people don’t have a problem with paying. The point is let it be charged/billed PAYW and we will be fine. Let me be charged only when I switch on my decoder. My decoder cannot be off and inactive and yet my bill is running. I travel out of the country for 2 weeks, yet my bill is running. So I pay for one month, I enjoy 2 weeks service, then next month I go and pay for another 1month again. I dare say again that it is a complete rip-off. It is completely amazing that anybody would put up a defense for such anomaly.

Let the billing / charging system be changed to PAYW and we will be fine. I have a convincing believe that MultiChoice DSTv will even get more customers/subscribers with that system/approach. But they are currently blind to the realization of that truth.

?There is a wide gap of difference between PAYW and flat rate system. For instance (and this example may not be completely sacrosanct), it is just like my Telephone. If I Load 5k on it, I can choose to use it for 1 month or 2 months or 3 months, if I like. Or I can even use it completely in 2 days. It is my choice, and it is very fine by me because it is charged per usage. This is exactly what should be happening to the DSTv billing system. When GSM came into Nigeria, there is no manner of argument that MTN (another South African company) did not put forward to say per-second billing is not possible nor realizable. Then enter Globacom and the rest is history. Today, we are all living witnesses to the situation on our telephone billing. This exactly is what we are demanding MultiChoice DSTv to adopt for the billing system….a PAYW billing mode, just like it happens in other places.

?Some people have attempted to throw-up an argument of the content providers in defense of the service providers. And my position is simple. Give me the choice of the content that provides PAYW and the ones that stipulates a flat rate, and then let me choose. Let it be my choice these are the contents I want to use my subscription to watch, and then charge me on PAYW. Again like my telephone, I have a Youtube app on it. But this does not necessarily mean I must use my data-plan to watch the Youtube. It has to be my choice. I am allowed to choose if the Youtube app on my phone is more important to me or it is just the regular Twitter and Facebook apps I want to use my data-plan for. I should be able to choose. This is a modern world. Leave me with the option to choose what I want to watch and then charge me pari-pasu my content choice in a PAYW billing mode, even if it costs me more.

Currently, the MultiChoice DSTv premium bouquet has close to about 100 stations or so. The big question is how many of it do I tune to. How many of these stations do I get to watch? Why should I be billed for something that doesn’t even catch my fancy? Why must I be charged for it? Why must it be on my bill? These are very pertinent questions. There are currently about 6 different bouquets on the DSTv, each with different fixed prices (flat rate). The lowest bouquet has about 14 channels or so, with an obvious exclusion of the choice sports, movies and news channels. Whilst the premium bouquet has the over 100 channels including the ones we never watch. And then the 30 days subscription expires, whether or not the subscriber watches.

I need just a few channels that show what I need to watch and what catches my fancy, and that’s what I want to pay for. Let me pay for that. Don’t charge me for a religious channel or a Rwanda Tv that I will never ever tune to (sincere apologies for names mentioned. It is just a general example). Why can’t my subscription be charged only when my decoder is active. I should not be in the office and my bill is running when no human being is in my house. I should not be away from the country and my bill is running. It’s a complete rip-off. It has to stop. But again this is Nigeria where anything goes. Where all manners of anomaly are permissible. Where people are allowed to get away with all manners of impunity. It is sad. It is sickening. It is frustrating. It is nerve-wrecking.

Now what is the option available to MultiChoice DSTv, as it will amount to a pure academic exercise to criticize without offering a solution? I think MultiChoice DSTv should consider implementing something called fixed service charge per month to cover their fixed costs. The concept of fixed service charge is understandable, is acceptable and should be what is operational. The fixed service charge plus the PAYW would be the billing to the user and not just a monthly flat rate as it is currently operational. The concept of the fixed charge is what is being used by PHCN in Nigeria as of today. It’s an absolutely fantastic idea. Very brilliant piece of thinking. You can apply and charge me fixed service charge on a monthly basis and then let me choose the content I pay for (which is now the PAYW part of the bill, on per usage basis). Let me choose how I use my subscription. Let me determine how I use up my N14,000.00 subscription. Let it be my choice to determine how long it takes me to do another recharge. This is all we are asking should be operational here. It makes valid sense. It makes valid reasoning. It makes things easy for all parties, as nobody feels cheated.
I am of utmost believe that this approach makes everybody happy….and it is a win/win situation, for MultiChoice DSTv and the rest of us.
Adetomiwa Olatoye
olatoyetomiwa@yahoo.com / 08023034561 / Accountant / Ikoyi – Lagos State

Views expressed are solely that of author and has no association with www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

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