By Okoh Aihe
The broadcast industry has been in the news lately. First, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the industry regulator, released the sixth edition of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code, which has simmered in cacophonous responses from the interests of multiple stakeholders in the industry. Then, just last week, the regulator was buckled into the National Assembly, where members of the lower house almost stamped it out for a pay-per-use model in the pay-TV sector.
These are very interesting times and also the season of anomalous patriotism. Those with some kind of power, including created ones, are boiling to wield it, and the beneficiaries are hidden in a layer of deception. Especially the members of the National Assembly, they have so much power that a friend once told me, once you go into their cameras, even if they want to see the color of your pants, you have to take off your clothes.
You can call this hyperbole extremely, but sometimes hyperbole is the only word that can conveniently house our ostentatious manifestations as a people.
Otherwise, how do you capture the story of lawmakers who simply told the regulator to look for ways to achieve a new business model for a sector of the broadcast industry? However, they had the Transmission Law before them and they know that with all the powers the regulator enjoys, including those that prevent it from completing a transmission license process, unlike the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which can start a licensing process within the Commission and also end it there, the regulator before them does not have the powers to make price determinations for the industry. At best, you can referee!
However, legislators have the support of the people who support them, who voted them to power and, therefore, can almost legislate on anything. The chair of the ad-hoc committee, Hon Unyime Idem, from Akwa Ibom state, leaned on this support earlier in the year when he stated that “As chair of this ad-hoc committee, I want to assure Nigerians that their interests will be protected When I moved the motion on the floor of the house, I said that in a business of this nature, customers should have the right to choose what they want. We have interacted with Nigerians and what they want is to pay for the use, so that when they are in their respective locations, their subscriptions can be there and use them when they return. ”
As a country with estimated statistics, our population exceeds 200 million (note that there are not three government officials who will speak in the same forum on population issues that will give you the same figures), of which almost 100 million live below poverty. line; meaning that people in this category are not worried about television or even DSTV as they chase the mandatory dollar per day to activate their stomach infrastructure. The remaining people could be so pressured, chasing problems that assault their lives. Of the remaining figure, I want to be bold in stating that the addressable pay TV market will be around 20 percent.
The figure above is supposed to be shared between some of the market operators in Nigeria, including: Multichoice, owners of DSTV and GOTV, Startimes, DaarSat, ConSaat, Kwese TV and TSTV.
But reality does not always admit assumptions; That’s why Nigeria’s pay TV subscription could be less than 5 million, with Multichoice enjoying a substantial advantage, followed by Startimes, while others occupy a distant third in the fight for market visibility.
However, I’ve seen posts somewhere that attribute approximately 11 million subscribers to a particular operator with the surprising conclusion that said operator earns more than N100bn per month. That number sounds very utopian and exceeds all market projections. My position here is not about any operator, but the market possibilities and industry regulatory practices that can strengthen the transmission sector. In trying to carry out a dispassionate assessment of the industry in this regard, an esteemed voice within the government reasoned that “there appears to be an elite conspiracy against some operators.” Some boys are using national sentiments to create an elite conspiracy and make the operating field more difficult for existing operators. “
This is something that the National Assembly should not encourage. To the extent that the members are in the sacred chambers with the votes of the people, the people also include those who run businesses in Nigeria. Everyone in society should enjoy their protection and be encouraged to be more productive. We need to dig together to position ourselves to capture the future. For this reason, we must always look at the reverse of the coin, the other side of the story and work to redeem our unfortunate situation.
For example, global pay-TV earnings would be set at $ 183 billion by 2023, according to Statista, a German online statistics platform. Obviously, this is a very big business pie and countries around the world are struggling to increase their bets and derivatives of the big apple. How do we have more profitable access to this business as a country? Perhaps the answer to this question should warn the National Assembly to create a friendlier platform for fruitful discussions rather than a monologue and an apparent directive for NBC on how to regulate the industry going forward. The discussions, a source told me, should be captured within the law; Without externalities.
Lawmakers are pushing the pay-as-you-go story for the pay-TV industry, meaning it only pays for what it sees. The flip side says pay-as-you-go is a telecommunications term that simply measures airtime based on the size of your pocket. Pay-per-view, the other side says, is the language of TV that is directly opposite of pay-per-use in terms of cost and affordability. Pay-per-view is synonymous with premium TV programming that also attracts premium payments for high-end programming.
If a primary goal of the National Assembly is to get a better deal for pay TV subscribers, an industry voice very close to some operators told me over the weekend that pay-per-use is technically impossible right away. “It is not part of the business model for subscribers or operators. Pay-as-you-go cannot be made on subscription television because the business model does not support it. The operator will need a new technology configuration to do so, which in turn could have an additional cost for subscribers. “
In order to manage the cost for subscribers, pay TV operators generally develop bouquets for different market segments. Such a bouquet would generally encourage the subscriber to manage his taste according to the size of the pocket. No. In this part of the world, our taste is controlled by greed and the unattainable. And when we did not get our way, we began to threaten the operator with our huge population and the size of the country’s market, forgetting that the preponderance of poverty on earth almost put in deficit those who are outside the ring of the poor.
When the threat has not worked, they begin to point to other lands: Sky in the UK has a weekly card; but you have to sign a contract to be qualified and the contract binds you for a time. Oh, Comcast in the United States has Xfinity plans for subscribers. It even comes with a data pack and all kinds of attractive links. But they know very little about the superstructure that Comcast has built over the years, including the acquisition of the American Cellular Network in 1988, which has given it a lot of strength in the market.
The point is that we need a conversation, how we approach the future as people. The National Assembly can lead the conversation. After all, they have the votes of the people. Given that they have chosen the pay TV sector as a point of intervention, I actually hope that lawmakers will conduct an inquisition on the factors responsible for the lousy failure of local operators in the pay TV business or why they cannot start operations at all. We will remain on the fringes of a large industry if we continue to play in the gallery as we saw on television last week. The times when we are called to very deliberate action with the future in mind.