Multichoice in Disarray as FG Set To Send DSTV, GoTV, Others Packing

The Federal Government may have notified the management of MultiChoice DSTV/GOTV that their operations, in Nigeria, will come to an end in 2019 as their license expires June next year.

According to a letter to that effect by the National Broadcasting Corporation(NBC), the license issued to them in 2014 by NBC will not be renewed because it was not in line with Digital Switch Over (DSO) White Paper.

Modibo Ishaq Kawu, director general, National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), recently disclosed that all paid DTT operators including DSTV, GOTV and Star Times will be shut down by June 2019 unless they begin discussions with the two signal distributors, ITS and Pinnacle.

Elsewhere, the broadcast giant was also fined $14 million in South Africa for price fixing in Nigeria with the aid of Emeka Mbah, former NBC director general.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, Kawu said that in preparation for full implementation of switch over from analogue to digital signals, all operators in the sector including signal distributors, content aggregator, Set top Box manufacturers ought to be on the same page now, to help in delivering a seamless Digital Switch Over (DSO).

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The NBC boss also said in line with a Federal Government White paper, Multichoice who are the owners of DSTV and GOTV as well as Star Times owned by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) will no longer be able to operate as both signal distributor and content provider.

He said: “NBC has also informed the pay DTT operators, GOTV and NTA/STAR TIMES, to begin discussions with the two signal distributors, ITS and Pinnacle Communications.

“This is because, in line with the Government White Paper on the Transition from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting, after June 2019, these pay DTT operators would no longer be licenced to operate as both content providers and signal distributors”.

Kawu further explained that DSO has been implemented in two mores states of Kaduna and Kwara at the end of 2017, bringing the number of states on DSO to four with FCT and Plateau topping the list.

He informed that NBC has already scheduled Monday, February 12, 2018 to switch on Enugu Atate while February 23 has been affirmed for Osun State just as Delta and Gombe states will be the next.

Kawu, who gave a schedule of the planned DSO, stated that the next phase will include one state from each of the six geo-political regions, during this year, 2018.

“We envisage that by the end of the third quarter of 2018, we would have switched on in 12 states around Nigeria,” he assured.

The NBC boss also commended stakeholders in the implementation process for their resolve to work together.

He said that at a retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, players in the sector were made to appreciate each others responsibility and a clear role was carved out for each player to guarantee a seamless transition in the DSO eco-system.

“We have also consciously delineated revenue streams for all players, an issue which was the basis for some of the rancour that existed before. The broadcasters, signal distributors, content aggregator, Set top Box manufacturers are all on the same page now, to help strengthen the work of delivering the DSO.

“Similarly, we are going to also begin a phased Analogue Switch Off (ASO), in Plateau State and the FCT, by the end of the First Quarter of 2018. “And as part of acceleration of the work, we have commenced the digital mapping of Nigeria. It is a process that would help to give clarity to the entire DSO process,” he added.

Kawu also stated that NBC has submitted a long list of new radio and television stations to President Muhammadu Buhari for presidential assent.

He said, “The President has always been encouraging the NBC to open up accesses for Nigerians to be able to register newer radio and television stations, because of his belief that they help to deepen democratic discourse, while also helping to create new jobs through the broadcasting value chain.”

He urged broadcasters to use their medium to promote democratic ethos and discourage hate speeches as election year approaches and to be moderate in their reportage of sensitive national issues.

“Broadcasters are reminded that they have a duty to respect all extant laws related to the reportage and coverage of the electoral process. Don’t broadcast campaigns when the period for commencement of campaigns have not commenced.

In South Africa, MultiChoice’s DStv has been fined $14 million for price fixing after being found guilty by South Africa’s Competition Commission to have contravened the country’s Competition Act in relation to “price fixing and fixing of trading conditions”.

The company whose largest market is in Nigeria where it has been in operation for about 22 years has been in the news for ripping Nigerians off with its inflexible subscription conditions and unfriendly quality of service (QoS) which could be attributed to its monopolistic status in the Nigerian market.

The House of Representatives had in April, 2017 instructed its Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values to investigate Multichoice Nigeria’s ‘exorbitant charges’ for its DStv and GOtv packages.

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