Metrodigital Limited, a pay-TV company, praised the federal government for ending the cable TV rights monopoly of the major pay-TV companies in Nigeria. The company’s managing director, Ifeanyi Nwafor, delivered the praise at a press conference in Port Harcourt on Friday.
Nwafor said the federal government’s decision to ban the TV rights monopoly would promote competition, lower subscription prices and create jobs for thousands of people in the country.
“So we are delighted, considering that in the past the streaming market was closed, as premium content was purchased exclusively.
“The exclusivity made branches without premium content unattractive and made it difficult for local cable TV stations to compete in the local market.
“News channels like CNN, premium sporting events like the English Premier League, Champions League and others were acquired exclusively to the exclusion of other industry operators,” he said.
Nwafor said that the monopoly of the industry led to the closure of TV companies such as Daar Sat, Trend TV, Consat, FSTV, among others, as they could not cope with unhealthy business practices in the industry.
He said that the United States, with a population of 350 million, had more than 400 pay-TV companies, while Nigeria, with 200 million citizens, had only one or two.
According to him, the practice has made Nigeria the country that pays the most pay-TV subscriptions in the world, as local operators who lack strength are smothered to death.
“Realizing the danger, the Federal Government banned content acquisition exclusivity, storage, whereby content is acquired unused to prevent others from using it.
“To this end, the government forced broadcasters to sublicense content to other operators at a commercially acceptable price,” he said.
The managing director said the federal government’s position was captured in Code 6 and 9 editions of the nation’s broadcasting code.
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He said that shortly after the legal provisions were announced, Metrodigital Limited applied to Multiple choiceowners of DSTV, to sublicense channels, but the request was rejected.
According to him, the company thereafter applied to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to seek redress for the matter, but NBC was unable to address the dispute.
“Consequently, we approached the Federal Superior Court in Port Harcourt to address the trade dispute, but we lost.
“After we lost, we appealed the trial court ruling to the Port Harcourt Court of Appeal, which delivered judgment on June 13 in favor of Metrodigital Limited.
“The court also overturned the lower court’s judgment and ordered NBC to begin the dispute resolution process within 21 days,” it added.
Mr. Nwafor further thanked the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, for his resilience in stopping the monopoly in the broadcast industry, to ensure that Nigerians pay less for television subscriptions. (YAYA)