Nigerians traditionally grumble whenever there is a price increase, be it from the government or companies who may, or may not be monopolies. In the end however, we tend move on. The evidence on the ground suggests that the latest price hike by Multichoice, the parent company of DSTv will not be any different. MultiChoice Africa which boasts about two million subscribers in Nigeria, had on March 3 announced a price increase for DStv and all its packages and bouquets, which takes effect from April 1.
At first glance, the price increase has not gone down well with subscribers, but when a planned operation #BoycottDStv fails to trend on Twitter, permit this writer to say that Newton’s third law of motion will take effect, which in Twitter context we can paraphrase as, “what ever trends will gradually die down”.
The reasons why Nigerians will move on over the proposed tariff hike by Multichoice Africa are many, but two stand out:
When the few that are planning to stage a protest or boycott DSTv eventually fail and their demands not been met by either the Consumer Protection Council, CPC, or the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, NBC, bodies who are to look into matters like this, Nigerians will lose interest, enthusiasm, and show decreased interest in any boycott project.
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity, this can therefore be characterized by a lack of viable economic competition to produce the goods or services, and a lack of viable substitute. MultiChoice is not the first and will not be the last company gaining the ability to raise prices of their products and services. We have seen the power of monopoly play out in several industries in the country with the common man having no say or saying and not being heard.
The key to sustaining and balancing a healthy consumer price in every nations economy is viable competition. Take the telecoms industry as a case study, until other investors started springing up, Nigerians were made to pay through their noses just to own a phone and use the services of the then monopoly telecom operator.
Increasing demand for Premier League action by football lovers
Nigeria is a footballing nation and its citizens are football lovers. Across the globe the Barclays Premier League continues to be the most watched football league in the world of which Nigeria is also part of.
Every weekends and some other weekdays, many football lovers in Nigeria come out in their numbers to watch football actions and support their various premier league clubs in a form of relaxation. Currently in Nigeria, MultiChoice through its Digital Satelliete Television (DSTV) acquired exclusive rights to broadcast the English Premier League in Nigeria.
At a point, a Nigerian pay TV company HiTV, now defunct, launched its services and was quick to acquire exclusive rights to broadcast the English Premier League for the 2007-2010 season in Nigeria.
But as the premier league grew tighter, HiTV could not hold on to the coveted Premier League rights for the 2010-2013 negotiation window after the British value of the rights increased by around £600 million. DSTv capitalizing on HiTV’s inability to retain the rights, regained the rights to broadcast the English Premier League in Nigeria.
Tax on luxury items
This shouldn’t be new to us, that when looking through items tagged as ‘Luxury’ DSTv falls into that category and in the wake of the current oil price slump in international market, the Federal Government has mapped out plans to introduce luxury tax. The coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, confirmed that Nigeria will be introducing a Luxury Tax as a response to the dwindling oil price.
In simple understanding, if DSTv falls into FG’s luxury item compilation, which it will almost definitely fall into, DSTv will find a way to recover from its consumers.
A policy advocate and a fervent Twitter user, Ayo Sogunro, said on Twitter after Multichoice announced the April 1 tariff increase, saying “I can’t boycott water. I can’t boycott air. I can’t even boycott Nigeria. But I can boycott DStv.”
He futher tweeted, “You know how you hate it when bus drivers increase prices almost by 100 per cent when it is raining? That is what DStv is doing,” adding that, “as a Nigerian citizen living in Nigeria you deserve to be treated with respect by all foreign companies operating here.”
Gboyega Falode, a corper, said, “DSTV is luxury that why you hardly find one in homes of common masses. The packages in contrast to the bouquets cost makes it more luxurious. Take for example, the cheapest package they offer is the DSTV Access, which is between
N1,500 and N1,800, trust me, 70 percent of the channels are not worth watching. To enjoy DSTV you need to go for at least the Compact package which cost over N9,000 and thats an impossible amount to pay at the end of every month for an average Nigerian who earns a minimum wage.”
Stanley Ikechukwu a digital marketing expert, said, “I dont see DSTV as a luxury product, but what makes it luxurious is the fact that, to really enjoy the use of your device you need to have a generator and you need to fuel it. What am saying in essence is that many of us consider it as luxury because power is a big problem in Nigeria. Take for instance, I just paid for my DSTV subscription this month and ever since then, PHCN has decided not to give me light, so to watch my DSTV, I have had to buy fuel of
N1,000 daily, which as of now is even more than what I paid for the package and that doesn’t concern DSTv as a company whether I used it or not, when the month comes to an end, it expires.”
Olamide Shadeko, a banker: “DSTV in Nigeria is a luxury product, I have had the opportunity to live in South Africa, DSTV is not as expensive over there as compare to what it is in Nigeria. You may recall that the decoder itself is not the source of income but the monthly subscription. I understand that the cost of doing business in Nigeria is very high but DSTV is not investing extra in satellite television in recieving countries like Nigeria, so my question is why cant a common man afford it?”
Okafor Emma, an importer, said, “DSTV is Luxury following how you asked me the question, DSTV inline with importation is a luxury item and the government has placed crazy charges (tax) on items like that. So by the time the decorders are cleared at the port, DSTV will have no other option than to make the money back from the end users. What make DSTV luxury is government unfavourable policies.”