OrderPaperToday – There was disquiet within the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee mandated to interface with Multi-Choice Nigeria, owners of Digital Satellite Television, DStv, on pay-per-view tariff billing, as members disagreed with the handling of affairs by its chairman, Mr. Edem Uyime.
This is as the management of the satellite broadcast firm explained why it can neither implement the billing system in Nigeria nor revert its tariff increase.
These happened on Monday at the resumed sitting of the committee in the National Assembly.
Recall that the House in plenary in March empaneled the committee to liaise with Multi-Choice and relevant stakeholders on the pay-per-view tariff billing as well as push for reduction of recent price increase by the firm.
But disquiet set into the proceedings when chairman of the committee rejected motion to expand the investigation by inviting the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, Director-General, Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Armstrong Idachaba, engineers and other experts.
The motion was moved by the deputy chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Mr. John Dyegh, who argued that the proposed invitees should be made to appear to tell whether the reduction for subscription fee and pay-per-view billing was possible.
Mr. Degh said: “This investigation has to be full blown so you (multi-Choice management) argue with Nigerians and tell them what you are telling us. We have to invite the Minister of Information, NBC (Nigeria Broadcasting Commission), engineers and other experts should all appear before the Committee.”
Corroborating this position, Mr. Olododo Cook Abdulganiyu (APC, Kwara) said the probe be expanded to give room for stakeholders and of course the minister to appear.”
Following dismissal of the motion by Mr. Uyime, some members of the committee openly expressed disappointment as they could be seen grumbling among themselves.
OrderPaperNG observed Mr. Dyegh attempting to stage a walkout from the hearing but was persuaded by some colleagues in the committee to sit back after which he grudgingly returned to his seat.
Speaking earlier however, Managing Director of Multi-Chioce Mr. John Ugbe, justified the increase in tariff on the petrol price increase and finance act which raised Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5 to 7 percent.
He said the “increase of the subscription fee of DStv and GoTV is as a result of the recently passed finance bill and also the hike in the fuel price affected us in proving services. Again, when you compare the pricing with other countries in the world the subscription fee is lower in Nigeria.”
On pay-per-view, the Multi-Chioce boss said the broadcast industry was a one-way communication and so it would be difficult to reverse the current tariff system, adding:
“The pay-as-you-go is not a one way concept in the broadcast industry unlike the telecommunications industry that has two ways. We also do not have that technology to stop the running of program content on satellite television.”
In his ruling, the chairman of the committee asked the Multi-Choice team to go back and liaise with the board of the company in order to meet the demands of its subscribers.
“There is no going back on demand of pay-per-view so you have to go back and discuss with the board of Multi-Choice and get back to the Committee,” Mr. Edem insisted.
Recall that the probe hearing had been delayed due to the covid-19 disease on which basis, the Multi-Choice boss had asked for more time from the committee.