It has been estimated that about 29 million households may be free from the yoke of pay television monthly subscriptions when the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) finally activates 34 other states in the country with its digital switch over.
This means that most households, which presently cough out between N6,000 and N38,000 for set-top box (STB – decoder) and monthly subscription fees of between N3,500 and N2,000 depending on the bouquet (package), to access content that may not even be watched owing to poor signal from Pay TV service providers, will have their expenditure cut substantially when this innovation gathers critical mass.
But ahead of this pay cut, the Federal Government said it has fixed price of N1,500 for the purchase of STBs and an annual digital access fee of N1,000.
Already, activated STBs for Jos and Abuja have risen to 105,077 and 283,414 respectively. But by the time STBs are activated for the remaining 34 states, more households would be saved trillions of naira, our investigations reveal.
Under the prevailing Pay TV regime, an average household subscribes to the service with N3,500 and in 12 months that would amount to N42,000 and about N420,000 in 10 years if rates are not hiked along the line.
However, there are other higher premium packages that go for between N9,500 and N12,000 for the elite class while blue chip organisations, government agencies and media owners subscribe heavily to the high end premium monthly to access local and foreign contents.
According to Daily Sun’s calculations, if 29 million households subscribe to N3,500 monthly, private Pay TV firms would be raking in an average of N101.2 billion monthly and over N1.218 trillion yearly.
For government’s STBs, 29 million subscribe at N1,000 annually, could amount to N29 billion. This, however, does not include the Federal Government agencies that pay premium packages.
Aside the projected N9.34 trillion savings from the project, analysts believe that over 8 million job opportunities that would alleviate poverty in the long run would be available because the Federal Government had issued a similar directive with Kenya on the local production of STBs.
According to Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, at least 30 regional channels and 10 national channels catering for local music, news, film, children’s programming and sports, would be created once Nigeria completes full broadcast switch over.
“With 29 million TV households in Nigeria requiring STB or Smart TV, thousands of jobs will be created by the companies licensed to produce the boxes. Besides the licensed companies producing the STBs, hundreds of thousands of jobs will also be created from television production. These will include the production of music and movies, with the active participation of Nollywood, which would move to push for subscription for Video On Demand on the STB and online.
“The TV industry is also expected to experience an increase in number of writers, lighting, sound, camera and editing professionals as well as actors, installers to supply the market with STBs, TV sets and dongles, increase in television and online advertising, as well as the need to create apps to offer goods and services for interaction and entertainment at every level,” Mohammed said.
Meanwhile, some angry stakeholders believe that MultiChoice’s and Startimes’ subscription rates have hit subscribers like lightning and the thinking is that they have no justification for such high rates besides taking advantage of the lack of alternatives in the sector.
At a recent forum, MultiChoice Nigeria CEO, Mr. John Ugbe, who spoke to journalists, acknowledged that increment in price was always painful and “we are very mindful of this. However, they are sometimes necessary for businesses to provide service to their consumers and also provide necessary returns to stakeholders.
They ensure that we can continue to provide quality entertainment to our subscribers even with the rising costs and inflation. It is because of the prevailing economic situation and rising cost of content and our other inputs that we have had to increase the cost of subscriptions and this has affected all the other entities across the continent.”
Meanwhile, Director General of NBC, Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, for his part assured Nigerians that NBC remained committed to the highest standards of broadcast regulation in the country.
“We will do everything to assist the growth of our industry; we will continue to provide the ambiance for the flowering of broadcasting in our country. But we would never tolerate a regime of impunity, refusal to obey the law or being cavalier with licensing issues, especially a prompt payment of license fees.
Recall that the local production of STBs came to the limelight when the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) gave a deadline for a digital switch over (DSO).
The DSO is the process of changing from analogue to digital TV broadcasting. Today, more people are familiar with analogue broadcasting having a restricted choice of programming due to limited space for channels; having to tune the TV to their region to pick up broadcasts or play with the antennae to get a smooth, uninterrupted signal.
Although Nigeria missed the deadlines twice in 2012 and 2015, it was able to sail through in June 2017.