Tuesday, February 23, 2016

MultiChoice Nigeria says it will try and 'meet the order and deadlines' of the onerous new service sanctions, changes demanded by Nigeria's consumer body.

MultiChoice says it will try and meet the order and deadlines of heavy-handed service delivery sanctions that were imposed by Nigeria's Consumer Protection Council (CPC) in that country on the large satellite pay-TV operator.

The CPC again slammed MultiChoice in Nigeria over service delivery in an ongoing strained relationship between the pay-TV operator and that country's consumer protection body, with the CPC ordering MultiChoice to make a flurry of sweeping, extremely onerous and wide-ranging changes to its DStv service.

It's not clear how MultiChoice in Nigeria will be able to affect several of the service and structural product adjustments and what the impact on MultiChoice in that country will be - as well as what it might mean for MultiChoice across the rest of the African continent.

Most notably, the CPC ordered MultiChoice to not contain "good sport and other channels" in the DStv Premium package - the most expensive one where subscribers pay for the best content - but to spread "good channels" in an "reasonable, equatable spread" across all packages for all DStv subscribers.

As onerous and uninformed about the economics of the bundled pay-TV model that makes a service like DStv possible in the first place, is the CPC's order that MultiChoice allow for "service suspensions".

According to this, DStv subscribers should be allowed to switch off their DStv service for between 7 to 14 days and not have to pay, and DStv subscribers should be able to make use of it twice a year with a 72-hour notice period to MultiChoice.

Furthermore the CPC ordered MultiChoice Nigeria to unlock free-to-air channels to make these channels watchable on the DStv system even if people are no longer DStv subscribers.

The CPC ordered MultiChoice to provide toll-free call centre numbers to DStv subscribers in Nigeria; to improve and redo its "grossly unfair, unjust and one-sided" service agreement contract; and that MultiChoice is only allowed to bill DStv subscribers once they actually get a DStv signal, and not from when they order the service and wait for it to be installed or fixed.

The CPC is also ordering MultiChoice Nigeria to pay out compensation within 90 days across the board to DStv subscribers who "over time lost legitimate and paid viewing time by its conduct of not restoring service contemporaneously after payment, as well as other instances of disruptions".

"We wish to assure subscribers of our commitment to continue to co-operate fully with the CPC on the order of the council, and will endeavour by all means to meet the order and deadlines, where possible," says John Ugbe, MultiChoice Nigeria's managing director in a statement.

"Unlike free-to-air operators, pay-TV businesses are dependent on subscriptions. If we lose subscribers, it negatively impacts our revenue and ultimately the sustainability of our business," says John Ugbe.

"It is therefore in our best interest to ensure that customer complaints are attended to and all efforts made to resolve queries in the interest of the subscriber".