The recent spate of public complaints and petitions against Multichoice Nigeria, owners of DSTV over alleged unwholesome practices, and unreasonable subscription hikes across their various bouquets, has led the Senate to commence an investigation on the operations of DSTV.
The Senate, on Wednesday, mandated its Joint Committee on Information, Trade and Investment to commence the probe of the South African firm and to organize a public hearing for all stakeholders including relevant civil societies to foster a way forward.
The move was spurred by a motion by Senator Isa Misau (Bauchi Central) titled “Concern on Unwholesome Practices by Multichoice Nigeria,” (DSTV), asking the committees to unravel the rationale behind DSTV’s unchallenged dominance in the Nigerian satellite television market which they believed was the underlying factor behind its sharp and unhealthy practices in the country.
The upper chamber also summoned the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment; National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to explain why the firm has the free hand to act with such a degree of nonchalance.
Leading debate on the motion, Senator Misau recalled how Multichoice’s unchecked sharp practices had forced some aggrieved Nigerians to engage it in legal battles in the last five years over a myriad of issues such as arbitrary increase in subscription charges; its refusal to adopt pay as you use mode, unilaterally moving major games from low subscription bouquets (COMPACT) to high ones (PREMIUM), poor service delivery, among others.
He explained that the motion is of public interest as football loving Nigerians follow the English Premier League (EPL) on DSTV with the company enjoying the monopoly of broadcast in the country.
According to Misau, it is imperative to intervene with a view to addressing the perceived high handedness of the pay TV company. Supporting the motion, Deputy Senate Leader, Ibn Na’Allah said the significance of the motion is to bring to fore that the monopoly being enjoyed by DSTV does not help any growing economy in any country.
People must not be allowed to take what is not due to them irrespective of where they operate, people must operate within the laws of the country and Nigerians must be protected on the way and manner people operate their business in this country.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in his comments, lamented that the CPC has failed in its responsibility to defend Nigerians from being exploited from the many number of companies who have been exploiting them over the years.
A lot of companies and service providers are exploiting Nigerians everyday including those in the power sector where we pay for electricity and we don’t have the energy; and in banks everyday, they are cutting their money from one service or the other and nothing happens and it is still going on.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, also in his reactions, noted that
…we must play our role to ensure that we protect Nigerians and ensure that the best global practices are what is happening in our own country so I would want the committees as directed to look into the matter particularly to ensure that the CPC played the role they should play in ensuring that the rights of Nigerians are always protected.
He therefore asked the committees to report its findings back to the senate within four weeks.