Going by a ‘Legal Notice” by GTB on Page 35 of the Guardian of 23rd November 2011, the stage is set for the gradual winding down of Hi Media Ltd the Operators of HITV. According to the “Legal Notice” the company is owing GTB N9,228,269,021 as at November 16, 2011. The bank having appointed a Receiver Manager for the assets of the company is a firm indication that the company was unable to make due their obligations as regards servicing the debt.
This is such a sad end to a company a lot of Nigerians cheered for when they came into the scene some 3 years back. They showed a lot of promise as they crashed the price of Pay TV following their successful acquisition of the rights to show Premiership and Champions League Football in Nigeria. However, lofty prospects turned sour as the company struggled with technical and operational know how. Their program content was equally poor as they had little or nothing to offer save for the football. Their notoriety for poor customer service was also evidently pervasive in the minds of customers, people soon wished they never even had the rights in the first place.
Be that as it may, the writing on the wall begun with the company’s inability to service its debt, which ultimately led to GT Banks decision to refuse them a loan which would have helped them bid and secure the rights for the premiership once again. This is indeed a sad lesson for Nigerian companies willing to take on large and complex business models that require highly technical and operational skills, experience as well as proper funding. Though the Government surely has a huge role to play in helping these companies, the responsibility lies with local companies to form technical partnerships with foreign firms that possess the experience and expertise required to run such businesses. Unfortunately, since they are not a bank, the Government can’t bail them out.
I feel sad as a Nigerian to see this happen, but the real truth is many more of this will continue until local businesses learn to run professionally as a going concern rather than a “one man show”.