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ATCIS harps on pay-per-view subscription as Free TV DSO launched in Lagos Thursday

The Association of Telephone, Cable TV and Internet Subscribers (ATCIS) has insisted that the National Assembly should mandate Cable TV operators in Nigeria to implement Pay-Per-View tariff for the Nigerian subscribers.

The National President of the association, Hon. Prince Sina Bilesanmi aka OJUEKO, said Nigerians could not continue with the act of extortion by the cable TV operators, insisting that there must be change in the subscription of the cable TVs in the country.

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Bilesanmi said this as federal government is set to launch Free TV Digital Switchover in Lagos.

The Digital Switchover (DSO), the process of transitioning from analogue to digital television broadcasting, will be officially launched on Thursday, April 29, 2021.

The DSO rollout was first launched in Jos, Plateau State on April 30, 2016 and since then, the federal government has rolled out in four more states – Kwara, Kaduna, Enugu and Osun as well as in the Federal Capital Territory, bringing the total to five states including the FCT.

FG is now moving rapidly to cover the remaining 31 states to kick start the new rollout in Lagos State on April 29, 2021.

Kano State follows on June 3, 2021, Rivers State on July 8, 2021, Yobe State on July 15, 2021 and Gombe State on August 12, 2021, with more states slated to follow.

The rollout in Lagos reflects FG decision to take the DSO to commercial centres across the country.

Speaking, Bilesanmi said the over 200 million members of the association across the six Geopolitical Zones in Nigeria are waiting impatiently for the implementation of pay-per-view tariff.

He noted that the association has been fighting for the right of the Nigerian Telephone, Cable TV and Internet Subscribers over the years.

He said in its sustained effort in protecting the interest and right of telecoms subscribers in Nigeria, ATCIS has spent about N370million since 2014 till date, which has basically been on self-sponsored by members without government agency like NCC, NBC, FCCPC and NIMC input.

“The association has made over 700 newspaper publications, both local and international as well as online news publication, Radio and National Television Station Interviews with about 120 Success landmark achievements so far,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Communication, House of Representatives, Unyime Idem, has said Nigerians will soon be enjoying pay-per-view bouquets.

Idem, who is representing Ukanafun/Orukanam Federal Constituency in Akwa Ibom State, is the chairman of the ad hoc committee set up by the House of Representatives to investigate tariff increment by cable/satellite television service providers in Nigeria.

The House had set up and mandated the panel on March 17, 2020, to investigate DSTV and other cable television service providers in Nigeria.

The House had, again on June 2, passed another resolution, mandating the panel to invite DSTV to explain its tariff increment on June 1.

Idem, at one of the investigation hearings by the committee, noted that the probe was based on protests by Nigerian Subscribers body called ATCIS led by its president, Hon. Prince Sina Bilesanmi, against DSTV’s tariff hikes.

He noted that after waited for FG order which DSTV refused to obey, the ATCIS National President informed all Cable TV Subscribers not to subscribe for the next six months till pay-per-view order is implemented.

While briefing journalists in Abuja on Friday, Idem said he and two other lawmakers had sponsored a bill that passed second reading on Thursday to grant powers to the National Broadcasting Commission to regulate tariffs imposed on subscribers by service providers.

The lawmaker, therefore, assured ATCIS that after the passage of the bill, “the issue of price (tariff) increment that happens without the control of the regulator; that happens when Nigerians are not expected; that happens even when the product is not consumed; even when the services are not consumed, is going to be a thing of the past.”

He said: “I want Nigerian subscribers to be happy, patient, and hopeful that in a short time, these issues are going to be addressed.

“Apart from the tariff, another thing the bill is seeking to address is the issue of monopoly. When this bill is passed into law, it would also give NBC the powers to open up the sub-sector so that more players can be brought on board.

“We need to broaden the system so that both local and international investors can come in and open up the system where we can have varieties. You can see what is obtainable today in the telecoms industry. Today, it is a sector that is so liberal and everybody would want to go in because it is a free market. So that is what we are looking at in the broadcasting industry.

“Very soon by the time it is passed, it is going to be a free market where everybody has a level playing ground.

“Right now, there are a lot of investors that want to come in but the monopoly that is rocking that particular sub-sector cannot accommodate new entrants into the system. So, that is one thing the bill is also seeking to address. So that apart from giving Nigerians benefit for the money pay, it would also add to the employment issue that Nigerians are yearning for. It is going to create a lot of employment.

“You can imagine the number of persons one outfit can accommodate in their employment. Then you can think of where we have so many companies coming in. At the end of the day, the number of employees that we are going to generate would be something that would help our economy. So those are the issues that we believe by the time it is passed it is going to address them.”

As at January 2021, the total number of active Telecoms subscribers was 200 million with a teledensity of 104.89%, contributing 14.3% to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP), who represented N2.3 trillion growth as at the second quarter of 2020.

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