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NBC Code: Why video streaming platforms say ‘No’

The newly amended code will destroy PayTV, effectively turn a private enterprise into state property.

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NBC, Jason Njoku, Founder and CEO of iROKO tv

When the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) released it’s amended 6th edition of the NBC Code a few days ago, some industry observers agreed that the anti-competitive objectives of the revised document, which is to maintain and promote fair and efficient market conduct, conforms to international standard.

The observers lauded the efforts of the Federal Government through NBC to protect Nigerians from what they described as modern colonization imposed by owners of PayTV firms on Nigerians. They insisted that the PayTV, especially the ones owned by foreigners, have fleeced Nigerians over the years without ‘meaningful rewards’.

What the amended code says
A part of the code (9.1.1.2) states that “In furtherance thereof, a Broadcaster shall offer the Sports and News programme and/or channels to other broadcasters for retail to residential subscribers in Nigeria on the following terms:
• Upon reasonable request in writing
• Within a reasonable time
• On a non-exclusive basis
• Without any undue discrimination
• In accordance with the requirements of this section and directions issued by the Commission.

READ ALSO: See the agreements AIT and NBC accepted as court gives final ruling

According to NBC, every broadcaster must license its broadcast and/or signal rights in any genre of programming to another broadcaster in Nigeria if:
• The genre of program(s) enjoy(s) compelling viewership by Nigerians;
• It relates to a product or service that is objectively necessary to be able to compete effectively on a downstream market;
• It is likely to lead to the elimination of effective competition on the downstream markets; and
• The refusal is likely to lead to consumer deprivation.

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Any platform that contravenes this provision will be given the chance to comply or risk a fine of ‎₦10 million ($25,773).

What it means: The broadcast code would prevent PayTV and streaming platforms from making content exclusive on their platforms. It compels PayTV and video-on-demand platforms like Netflix, Amazon, iROKOtv, Scene One TV, Africa Magic, etc to sub-license their content at prices the NBC will regulate. If they refuse to share or comply with the NBC’s prices, they would be sanctioned and probably fined, if adamant.

Operators lament
On the other hand, concerned movie content distributors and operators have kicked against NBC’s move to outlaw content exclusivity. As far as they are concerned, owning exclusive content is their major Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and they are not ready to lose such fortune for others that did not work for it.

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Reacting to the development, Chief Executive Officer, iRokoTV, Jason Njoku, one of the top PayTV platforms in Nigeria, on his Twitter handle explained that the new law, if implemented, will destroy PayTV in Nigeria and alleged that NBC in compelling sub-licensing of content & regulating price, would effectively turn a private enterprise into state property.

READ ALSO: How FG’s new broadcast regulation would boost local content

Njoku said, “Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in making exclusivity illegal, compelling sub-licensing of content & regulating price, are effectively turning the private enterprise into state property. Interference Distorts Markets. If implemented this 100% destroys PayTV in Nigeria.

“This our champagne socialism & zero input style of policymaking is the reason Nigeria is stunted in everything. I invest billions naira in content then I am compelled to share with everyone else as NBC sets the price. Why? Dark forces or incompetence is at play here. Ridiculous.”

He explained that if Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are to fight, and it is to be shown in Nigeria, that means the equivalent of 30% of the license costs need to be invested in an equivalent local sport. “Who will pay for that?” he inquired.

A policy expert and a lawyer, Ayobami Oyeleke, explained that the NBC, which was created by a military decree in 1992 and later became an Act of the Nigerian National Assembly to regulate Nigeria’s broadcast industry, does not have the power to regulate copyrights of others.

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He said that Nigeria’s Copyright Act allows a content producer to grant to distributors and that the NBC has no legal right to determine who shares what content or even fix certain prices.

He said,“The agency cannot correct a wrong with another wrong. For such code to be a success, it must approach the National Assembly to amend the Copyright Act. After three readings, the committee would hold a public hearing in that regard before that is done.”

If NBC would take the amended code to the National Assembly or it would implement the policy without taking that route,  operators and stakeholders would find out in few weeks.

 

Abiola has spent about 14 years in journalism. His career has covered some top local print media like TELL Magazine, Broad Street Journal, The Point Newspaper. The Bloomberg MEI alumni has interviewed some of the most influential figures of the IMF, G-20 Summit, Pre-G20 Central Bank Governors and Finance Ministers, Critical Communication World Conference. The multiple award winner is variously trained in business and markets journalism at Lagos Business School, and Pan-Atlantic University. You may contact him via email - [email protected]

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Victor Ikpe

    August 22, 2020 at 7:53 am

    Isn’t this amendment going to benefit the audience? I mean if Dstv cant offer foreign football, it brings options for the audience to pick what they want to watch and on what platform, that means good content availability at cheaper rates.

  2. Talkative

    August 22, 2020 at 8:03 am

    It’s a good idea, the main aim is to promote monopoly

  3. Timileyin Yusuf

    August 22, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Personally I feel the amendment is going to benefit the audience. If Dstbn no longe has right to foreign football exclusively then its creating option for the audience to pick what they want to watch. And it all goes down at a cheaper rate. Seems fair to me

  4. abiodun damilola

    August 22, 2020 at 11:50 am

    The idea of the amendment is to curb monopolistic in the broadcast industry , it’s a benefit go run the audience

  5. abiodun damilola

    August 22, 2020 at 11:53 am

    The idea of the amendment is to curb monopolistic acts in the broadcast industry , it’s a benefit to the audience .

  6. Timileyin Yusuf

    August 22, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Personally I feel the amendment is going to benefit the audience. If Dstv no longer has right to foreign football exclusively then its creating option for the audience to pick what they want to watch. And it all goes down at a cheaper rate. Seems fair to me

  7. abiodun damilola

    August 22, 2020 at 11:56 am

    i believe the idea behind the amendment is to curb monopolistic act in the broadcast industry . well , it’d favor the audience

  8. Chioma

    August 22, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Since the main aim of the amendment is to promote anti monopoly
    Then personally i feel it’s a good idea

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Business

First Bank Partners UN1TY Nigeria as lead sponsor of The Voice Nigeria

The reality music-talent show will be sponsored by First Bank of Nigeria.

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First Bank Partners Unity Nigeria as lead sponsor of The Voice Nigeria, How to do well by doing good- Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, FirstBank

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has, on Wednesday, announced its lead sponsorship of the TV reality musical talent show, The Voice Nigeria, Season 3.

The Voice Nigeria is a music talent show organised by Un1ty Nigeria to discover, nurture and bring to the fore musical talents amongst the next generation of Nigerian youth.

In a release seen by Nairametrics, the company revealed that the winner of the show will receive N10 million naira cash; a brand new car and an exciting one-year recording contract reward with Universal Music.

READ: Adesina’s re-election gets a boost as Nigeria doubles AfDB voting right for August 27 election

For the first time ever, the Voice Nigeria will be produced in Nigeria and aired on DSTV channel (Africa Magic) Startimes and terrestrial TV channel (AIT), amongst other leading television stations in and outside the country.

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According to the release, the talent hunt will start with blind auditions to be submitted upon being shortlisted after a successful registration. The registration for audition will be open till 19 September 2020.

“The Voice Nigeria will be hosted by Denola Adepetun (aka Denola Grey), Nancy Isime, Toke Makinwa and the coaches are Dare Art Alade, Folarin Falana (aka Falz), Yemi Alade and Aituaje Iruobe (aka Waje),” the release read.

READ: Banking: Another wave of consolidation?

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Speaking on the talent hunt show, Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, FirstBank, said;

“We are delighted to be the lead sponsor of The Voice Nigeria, this partnership is hinged on our Brand’s passion to empower and invest in our youths. First Bank has given voice to the young and indeed all Nigerians for the past 126 years, and will continue to give voice to Nigerians by creating employment, economic empowerment in the country through our products, services and initiatives.

“We remain committed to strengthening the creative industry which is fast growing into a multibillion-dollar business, with potential to be a leading contributor to Nigeria’s GDP in the near future.”

Ani-Mumuney commended UN1TY Nigeria for the programme targeted at youths, noting that applicants have to be within the age of 18 to 50 years and resident in Nigeria for 12 consecutive months.

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Business News

Sit-at-home entertainment: What Nigerians spend on DStv, Startimes and online streaming platforms

Nigerians would have to cope with increasing prices from these service providers.

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What Nigerians pay PayTv operators and Online streaming platforms for sit-at-home entertainment:

One of the spillovers of the pandemic is the recent ban on large gatherings and outdoor entertainment.

After being stuck at home for three months, we have moved to a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown where certain guidelines still hold sway. Gatherings of more than 20 people are still considered forbidden; cinemas are yet to open, and the same is the case with viewing centers and other relaxation spots.

Nigerians, like people all over the world, still have to sit at home and find ways to amuse themselves. Although the general impression is that sitting at home should provide cheaper entertainment, this is not true.

Subscriptions to PayTV and online streaming platforms are not free. Unstable electricity supply also means that Nigerians, more often than not, have to use generating sets to get power. Amid all of these, Nigerians still have to cope with increasing prices from these service providers.

Reviewed prices from PayTV

In July, StarTimes, one of Nigeria’s PayTV operators, announced an upward review of its subscription prices from August 1, 2020.

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With the review, the price of the basic bouquet moved from N1,300 to N1,700 monthly offering 80 channels, while the classic bouquet price moved from N1,900 to N2,500 monthly offering 100 channels.

(READ MORE: Walt Disney donates tons of food, 100k masks, others to communities, health workers over COVID-19)

Smart bouquet moved from N1,900 monthly to N2,200, while Super Bouquet moved from N3,800 monthly to N4,200. However, the lowest bouquet, being the Nova bouquet, remained N900 with over 43 channels.

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Viki Liu, StarTimes’ brand and marketing manager, said during a virtual press conference that the price increase was caused by the increased value-added tax (VAT) rates as well as the foreign exchange rate which had impacted the company’s cost of operation.

“Our business is not exempted from the effect of the naira depreciation affecting all businesses in the country. All of our foreign content is bought in dollars and to continually serve our subscribers the best content, the subscription price has to be reviewed upwards,” Liu said.

This is the only price increase the PayTv has had, even though the company has added “15 new channels in the last six months; expanded its educational programs for kids with more channels to provide the latest information on COVID-19; and also introduced the pay-as-you-go policy which enables people to subscribe on a daily or weekly basis,” Liu said.

In a phone chat with Nairametrics, PR Manager of Startimes Nigeria, Lazarus Ibeabuchi, made reference to past reviews where StarTimes had reduced costs of some bouquets.

“For instance, in September 2017, we scrapped our Unique Bouquet (N3800) from our DTT subscription packages and crashed its major channels into Classic Bouquet whilst reducing Classic Bouquet price from 2600 to 2400. In 2018, Classic Bouquet was further reduced from N2400 to N1900,” he explained, insisting that the PayTV service provider is not out to exploit customers.

(READ MORE: Startimes, DStv, Others adjust prices as Nigerian businesses battle tough economic conditions)

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On the other hand, MultiChoice in May, first announced a slight review to reflect the new VAT rates across its DStv and GOtv subscriptions. Effective June 1, DStv Premium subscription increased from N15,800 to N16,200, Compact Plus moved from N10,650 to N10,925, while the Compact bouquet was increased from N6,800 to N6,975.

The Confam bouquet became N4,615 as against the former price of N4,500, while Yanga bouquet increased from N2,500 to N2,565 monthly subscription.

For GOtv subscribers, GOtv Max bouquet increased from N3,200 to N3,280, while GOtv Jolli now goes for N2,460 and GOtv Jinja subscribers will pay N1,640.

Though the increase was very minute, almost insignificant, consumers complained about the timing being wrong.

To their credit, both PayTV operators delayed the implementation of the new VAT rates – MultiChoice for 4 months, and StarTimes for 6 months – even though the new VAT rates took effect in February 2020.

Note, however, that MultiChoice phased out 4 lower-tier subscription packages, from June 1, 2020. This means that the DStv Family, DStv Access, GOtv Plus, and GOtv Value subscription packages are no longer available for customers.

(READ MORE: Mr Eazi raises $20 million fund to invest in African artists

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Sources within MultiChoice declined to comment, but according to the statement on the website, the phasing out of the packages is part of “ongoing efforts to ensure our customers get improved choices and better value for money whilst delighting them with content that resonate with them.”

The company said that regular reviews of packages, which sometimes result in addition or removal of packages, are done to create capacity for new package additions and offer customers “more choice and great value”.

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Information on the company’s website shows that the company started the year with the Step up promos for customers, and later offering as much as 44% and 75% discounts for eligible customers in the We’ve Got You campaign during the lockdown, but this was hardly remembered as customers complained over the price reviews.

Before 2020, the last review was done in August 2018, when MultiChoice slashed the price of GOtv Max package from N3,800 to N3,200 while other GOtv packages remained fixed.

At the same time, the price of the DStv Premium package rose from N14,700 to N15,800; Compact Plus from N9,900 to N10,650; Compact from N6,300 to N6,800; Family from N3,800 to N4,000 and Access, from N1,900 to N2,000.

The spike in inflation rates was given as reason for the increase as well.

However, the outrage over the weekend was palpable, when Multichoice sent out messages to some of its DStv subscribers notifying them of a new increase to their bouquet prices. Coming three months after the last review, the outrage from customers was understandable.

(READ MORE: Chainlink: Most valuable DeFi crypto is attracting investors again, gains over 8%)

In a message sent to customers, Multichoice said: “We periodically review our pricing, taking into consideration factors such as inflation and operational costs. We acknowledge that the people of Nigeria are living under increased economic pressure and we have made efforts to freeze the subscription prices in the last year, barring any extreme factors such as the devaluation of currency and changes to VAT mandated by the government.”

Even before the increase, the clime was suggestive of a possible increase from Multichoice. What is not yet clear is whether GOtv subscribers will be affected by this recent increase, or if theirs has been reserved for another time.

From September 1, DStv Compact price would increase to N7,900 up from N6,975, while Compact plus would increase from N10,925 to N12,000, and DStv Premium jumps overboard from N16,200 to 18,400.

In retrospect, Multichoice could have borrowed a leaf from StarTimes, by capturing both the increased VAT rates and operations costs in a single increase, instead of carrying out price reviews twice within a space of three months.

 

Package Price at April 2020 (N) Reviewed price (N) Difference (N) % increase
DStv Premium 15800 18400 2600 14.1%
Compact plus 10650 12000 1350 11.3%
Compact 6800 7900 1100 14%
Confam 4500 4615 115 2.5%
Yanga 2500 2565 65 2.5%
Gotv Max 3200 3280 80 2.4%
Jinja 1600 1640 40 2.4%
Jolli 2400 2460 60 2.4%
Startimes basic 1300 1700 400 23.5%
classic 1900 2500 600 24%
smart 1900 2200 300 13.6%
super 3800 4200 400 9.5%

A close look will reveal that even though Startimes increased its prices with N300 – N600, the percentage increase was high because the prices of its bouquets were already really low. On the other hand, MultiChoice made little percentage increments, which only resulted in higher figures because the bouquet prices are higher.

Online streaming alternatives and why they are cheaper

Among the reactions, some subscribers mentioned alternatives like Netflix, IrokoTV, SceneOne TV, and Live Football TV app.

These online streaming platforms have also provided options for sit-at-home entertainment, especially during this pandemic.

So, how do they manage to keep their prices the same despite the challenges hitting others in the entertainment space?

READ: MultiChoice plans reduction in DSTV subscription fees across some African countries

PayTV operators like StarTimes and Multichoice pay for broadcasting rights in foreign currencies, and with the heated competition where both companies seem to be in a race for broadcasting rights, there is no doubt that they are spending a lot more than they had budgeted for at the beginning of the year when the exchange rate was $1 to N360; now, the exchange has gone over N470 to $1.

Even though these foreign companies employ lots of Nigerians, they sometimes have to import experts from other countries to service or repair their equipment, and this again means more foreign exchange payments.

(READ MORE: U.S dollar stays flat as America’s Federal Reserve becomes “extraordinarily uncertain”)

They also have to keep their outfits running with power supply, and the unstable electricity in Nigeria makes it even more complicated. Most times, they have to resort to alternate power sources, and we are aware that the fuel pump price recently went up from N125 to N145 per liter.

On the other hand, online streaming platforms do not have to deal with some of these operating costs. They purchase rights to the movie once and make it available to paying subscribers. This practically explains why their costs have remained stable, and relatively cheaper, despite the recent challenges.

Netflix, for instance, runs a basic subscription of N2,900 (1 device access), standard subscription at N3,600 (2 device access), and Premium at N4,400 (4 devices access). There’s also IrokoTV which has been nicknamed ‘Netflix of Africa’ by some, offering its plans for equally low prices.

The Live Football TV app is another alternative, a totally free app for football lovers. It provides match schedules with multi-platform broadcast listings, including match stats, events, live scores, news, and analysis. In truth, people who subscribe to PayTV simply for football reasons might find this a better and cheaper alternative.

However, the catch is this: even though the online streaming platforms offer cheaper or even free services, this comes at an extra cost – the customer has to purchase data in order to stream them.

Data is still not free, at least not in Nigeria.

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Business

StarTimes/NTA venture yielded no profit in 11 years – DG, NTA

The management of NTA was queried over alleged 11 years non-profitable venture with StarTimes.

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StarTimes/NTA venture yielded no profit in 11 years - DG, NTA

The StarTimes and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) venture has yielded no returns for the nation after 11 years of operation.

This was disclosed by the Director-General, NTA, Yakubu Ibn Mohammed while he was questioned by the Senate Joint committee on Finance and National Planning on Monday.

The Senate queried the management of NTA over what it called 11 years non-profitable venture with StarTimes.

READ: Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa attracted $3.9 billion VC deals in 6 years

StarTimes is a Chinese electronics and media company with a strong presence in Africa. It offers digital terrestrial television and satellite television services to consumers, provides technologies to countries and broadcasters that are switching from analog to digital television.

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Chairman, Senate Joint committee on Finance and National Planning, Senator Solomon Adeola, asked, “Mr DG are you telling this committee that for solid 11 years, the joint venture agreement NTA had with StarTimes has not yielded any profit despite using your facilities for over one million subscribers.

READ: Pay-as-you-view: Startimes, Multichoice in a tussle for the Nigerian market

“This is completely unfair to Nigeria. Something is cooking. You must come with the MD of your subsidiary unit overseeing the contractual and operational agreement.”

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Not a single kobo was made in 11 years

The NTA boss, said, “As an Executive Director in 2009 in NTA, not a single kobo was made from the joint venture with StarTimes, the same situation I met in 2016 when I returned as D-G.

READ: Update: FG to withdraw $150 million from sovereign wealth fund, to borrow $6.9 billion

”In fact, on assumption of office as D-G, that was the first question I asked, upon which records of non- profitability was presented by the NTA subsidiary outfit running it. The non- profitability status of the venture remains till today.”

Consequently, to dig further, the DG was ordered to appear before the committee again on Tuesday along with the Managing Director of NTA TV Enterprises, Maxwell Loko, supervising the joint venture with StarTimes.

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