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MultiChoice in Trouble as FG Issues Quit Notice to DSTv, Others



The Federal Government may have notified the management of MultiChoice DSTV/GOTV that their operations, in Nigeria, will come to an end in 2019 as their license expires June next year.


According to a letter to that effect by the National Broadcasting Corporation(NBC), the license issued to them in 2014 by NBC will not be renewed because it was not in line with Digital Switch Over (DSO) White Paper.


Modibo Ishaq Kawu, director general, National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), recently disclosed that all paid DTT operators including DSTV, GOTV and Star Times will be shut down by June 2019 unless they begin discussions with the two signal distributors, ITS and Pinnacle.

Elsewhere, the broadcast giant was also fined $14 million in South Africa for price fixing in Nigeria with the aid of Emeka Mbah, former NBC director general.


Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, Kawu said that in preparation for full implementation of switch over from analogue to digital signals, all operators in the sector including signal distributors, content aggregator, Set top Box manufacturers ought to be on the same page now, to help in delivering a seamless Digital Switch Over (DSO).

The NBC boss also said in line with a Federal Government White paper, Multichoice who are the owners of DSTV and GOTV as well as Star Times owned by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) will no longer be able to operate as both signal distributor and content provider.


He said: “NBC has also informed the pay DTT operators, GOTV and NTA/STAR TIMES, to begin discussions with the two signal distributors, ITS and Pinnacle Communications.


“This is because, in line with the Government White Paper on the Transition from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting, after June 2019, these pay DTT operators would no longer be licenced to operate as both content providers and signal distributors”.


Kawu further explained that DSO has been implemented in two mores states of Kaduna and Kwara at the end of 2017, bringing the number of states on DSO to four with FCT and Plateau topping the list.


He informed that NBC has already scheduled Monday, February 12, 2018 to switch on Enugu Atate while February 23 has been affirmed for Osun State just as Delta and Gombe states will be the next.


Kawu, who gave a schedule of the planned DSO, stated that the next phase will include one state from each of the six geo-political regions, during this year, 2018.


“We envisage that by the end of the third quarter of 2018, we would have switched on in 12 states around Nigeria,” he assured.


The NBC boss also commended stakeholders in the implementation process for their resolve to work together.


He said that at a retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, players in the sector were made to appreciate each others responsibility and a clear role was carved out for each player to guarantee a seamless transition in the DSO eco-system.


“We have also consciously delineated revenue streams for all players, an issue which was the basis for some of the rancour that existed before. The broadcasters, signal distributors, content aggregator, Set top Box manufacturers are all on the same page now, to help strengthen the work of delivering the DSO.


“Similarly, we are going to also begin a phased Analogue Switch Off (ASO), in Plateau State and the FCT, by the end of the First Quarter of 2018. “And as part of acceleration of the work, we have commenced the digital mapping of Nigeria. It is a process that would help to give clarity to the entire DSO process,” he added.


Kawu also stated that NBC has submitted a long list of new radio and television stations to President Muhammadu Buhari for presidential assent.


He said, “The President has always been encouraging the NBC to open up accesses for Nigerians to be able to register newer radio and television stations, because of his belief that they help to deepen democratic discourse, while also helping to create new jobs through the broadcasting value chain.”


He urged broadcasters to use their medium to promote democratic ethos and discourage hate speeches as election year approaches and to be moderate in their reportage of sensitive national issues.


“Broadcasters are reminded that they have a duty to respect all extant laws related to the reportage and coverage of the electoral process. Don’t broadcast campaigns when the period for commencement of campaigns have not commenced.


In South Africa, MultiChoice’s DStv has been fined $14 million for price fixing after being found guilty by South Africa’s Competition Commission to have contravened the country’s Competition Act in relation to “price fixing and fixing of trading conditions”.


The company whose largest market is in Nigeria where it has been in operation for about 22 years has been in the news for ripping Nigerians off with its inflexible subscription conditions and unfriendly quality of service (QoS) which could be attributed to its monopolistic status in the Nigerian market.


The House of Representatives had in April, 2017 instructed its Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values to investigate Multichoice Nigeria’s ‘exorbitant charges’ for its DStv and GOtv packages.


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Kwesé Buys Stake in iflix to Broaden SVOD Offering



Pan-African entertainment company and Econet Wireless subsidiary Kwesé has acquired ‘significant’ stake in Malaysian-based entertainment services firm iflix Africa for an undisclosed amount to strengthen its Streaming or Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) service in sub-Saharan Africa.

Strive Masiyiwa, Econet Group Founder and Executive Chairman, remarked: “We are thrilled to deepen our operating partnership with iflix to lead the transformation of media in Africa. Our companies share a mutual passion for innovation, along with a deep understanding of the culture and evolution of digital businesses.

“Mobility in content consumption has grown exponentially in Africa and by partnering with iflix Africa we are ensuring that we are not only taking part in the evolution, but are leading the movement.”

Mark Britt, iflix Group Co-founder and CEO said: “The strengthening of our relationship with Econet Group is a huge milestone for iflix. Following the initial phase of building our business in Africa, we have seen tremendous growth across our operating markets, far exceeding our expectations.”

The pay-as-you-watch pay-TV service is currently available in 13 countries and its Free Sport offering in over 25 countries.

“The operating partnership will see iflix drive Kwesé’s go-to-market mobile delivery in each of its territories,” reads a statement.

In October last year, Kwesé launched its satellite TV service to move more aggressively within the on-demand services space.

The company also confirmed its intention to roll out Over the Top (OTT) services and partner with telecom companies to expand streaming services.

Neo Lekgabo, Chief Marketing Officer at Econet Media said the company had established retail agreements with mobile network operators including Safaricom, Vodafone, MTN, in whose shops the firm would sell its boxes.

iflix entered the African market in June 2017 and has set up operations in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa.

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DStv Rules as TSTV, Others Chase Shadows



Over the past decade, various pay TV newcomers have tried to take on DStv, the digital satellite service owned by Multichoice, an arm of South African media giant, Naspers.


It is in a battle for a share of the 23 million subscribers that make up Africa’s fast-expanding pay TV market. So far, none has been able to win.


According to Quartz, the very authoritative digitally native news outlet, said that the latest to try is TSTV, a startup pay TV company that’s just launched in Nigeria.


Perhaps in a sign of concerns around DStv’s dominance as a premium TV distribution platform, Nigeria’s government has already given TSTV its backing by promising a three-year tax holiday to help it get off the ground.


From a programming perspective TSTV’s hopes of traction are largely hinged on offering popular premium sports content, one of the key elements satellite and cable TV distributors have used to build loyal (and at times, resentful) subscribers around the world.


But there’s just one problem with TSTV’s ambitions: it’s unclear if the company has any agreements to broadcast the most popular content of them all, the English Premier League (EPL).


TSTV lists beIN sports channels (which broadcasts the EPL in North Africa) as part of its programming package but that’s been shrouded in controversy with a purported letter from beIN refuting any agreement with TSTV making the rounds on social media in Nigeria.


beIN did not respond to Quartz’s emails seeking to clarify the authenticity of the letter but TSTV has denied infringing on beIN’s rights.

TSTV did not respond to Quartz’s email enquiries.


But despite the latest competition in Africa’s largest market, DStv is likely to retain its hold there as it has elsewhere.


Its dominance is down to a mix of its diverse content portfolio which range from exclusive rights to popular sports leagues to long-running investment in entertainment and movie content.


Backed by Naspers, Africa’s most valuable company with a market cap over $100 billion, very few competitors can match DStv’s deep pockets.


With more than 12 million subscribers DStv’s market share exceeds 50%, says Sa Eva Nebie, research analyst with Dataxis, a market research firm.


Its hold on broadcast rights of the EPL, arguably the most watched sports league in Africa, is an example of this. As the the value of EPL’s broadcast rights has risen sharply along with its global popularity in recent years, that cost presents a barrier to gaining market share for new entrants.


DStv has no such problem. Last year, it paid £296 million to secure rights to broadcast EPL in sub-Saharan Africa from 2016 to 2019, and, in April, it extended its agreement until 2022.


Its hold on the rights have even come under government scrutiny: in Kenya, regulators have unsuccessfully tried to get the company to resell its rights to local channels to “level the playing field.”


But soccer is not the only thing keeping DStv ahead. Its significant investment in original local content, especially the hugely popular Nollywood, through its Africa Magic channels, have also proven a major draw with subscribers that aren’t crazy about soccer.


Just as important are its broad offering of high-profile Hollywood content including movies and series as well as popular Indian soaps and Mexican telenovelas.


DStv’s dominance is also down to its wider reach and retail infrastructure—thanks to its 20-year head-start in the pay TV business.


One way competitors have looked to challenge DStv is by targeting the mass market many of which cannot afford DStv’s more expensive subscription prices.

StarTimes, a Chinese-owned pay TV company, has grown rapidly since the turn of the decade by offering cheaper monthly subscriptions (it’s most expensive bouquet is currently four times cheaper than DStv’s).


With prices as low as $2.50, the company has garnered 10 million subscribers across 30 African countries.


But DStv has since responded by launching GOtv, a less expensive pay TV company with monthly packages as low as $1. StarTimes offers a mix of news, entertainment and sports content (it will broadcast the FIFA soccer World Cup next year).


TSTV isn’t the first Nigeria-owned company that’s tried to test DStv’s hold on the Nigerian market. Back in 2007, newly-launched HiTV beat DStv to EPL rights and looked to build its subscriber base using football as its crown jewel. But that proved inadequate as, with much of its other content considered second-rate, many Nigerians maintained their DStv subscriptions. By 2011, HiTV had shut up shop amid allegations of high-level mismanagement.


As sports rights inflation rises quickly and many major African currencies crashing versus the US dollar in the last two years, it has forced DStv, like other African businesses, to raise their prices fairly frequently. This has engendered a lot of resentment with consumers who feel they have no choice but to use the satellite service with all the top programming. Some have called for tougher regulation of DStv.


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TVC to Open New Radio Station in Abuja



Andrew Hanlon, chief executive of TVC Communications, has said that his company will open a new radio station  in Abuja in April.


Hanlon who disclosed this when he visited Alhaji Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture on Tuesday in Abuja.


TVC Communications, based in Lagos, owns TVC Nigeria, a national station, Radio Continental and Adaba radio station in Ondo state.


Alhaji Lai Mohammed, urged the media to contextualize their reporting so that looters who destroyed Nigeria would not be made to look like its messiahs.


The minister did not mention any specific looter.


However, he noted that “the same people who presided over yesterday’s looting of our treasury are today posing as would-be saviours of Nigerians””.


”We are on a rescue mission. However, the way a section of the media is reporting the challenges facing the country today does not reflect that understanding.


“They are making a corrective administration to look like the culprit, to give the impression that the rain started beating us in Nigeria only from May, 29 2015, to play down the challenges that this Administration has faced and which it is successfully tackling.


”For example, we did not get to where we are today in just three years. It has taken successive decades of bad governance, unbridled corruption, and lack of probity, a culture of impunity and a near state of anarchy.


” These are the ills this Administration inherited and which it has set out to tackle, and this is what the media must reflect in their reporting,” Mohammed said.


The Minister said the situation of the country was prevented from becoming worse because of the prudence, probity and the anti-corruption stance of the present administration. He added:


“Instead of recession, Nigeria could have had a total collapse of the economy and the power grid could have collapsed.”


Mohammed further said that the manner in which the government handled Boko Haram, prevented the insurgents from overrunning Abuja just as it did major towns in the North East.


He also said that the country’s “food imports could have tripled what it was pre-May, 29 2015 and the Naira might have been worse hit.”


The minister, therefore, challenged the media to do more to educate Nigerians that it was hard to build but easy to destroy, noting that “the same people who presided over yesterday’s looting of our treasury are today posing as would-be saviors of Nigerians.”


He said it was the responsibility of the media to educate Nigerians about efforts being made by the administration to rebuild the nation “almost from the scratch with 60 per cent less revenue” while corrupt ones paint the government bad.


According to him, apart from low revenue and deflated foreign reserve, the Buhari administration came into being when the Federal Government was borrowing to pay salary and 27 states were owing workers salaries and unable to pay contractors for years.


This, he added, was apart from poor infrastructure, low power generation, trillions of naira wasted as fuel subsidy, empty treasury and most parts of Borno under total control of insurgents.


”Today, the trend is being reversed and the results are showing as Foreign Reserves is now $42.8 billio, inflation has fallen for 12 consecutive months to 15.13%, N108 billion has been saved from the removal of maintenance fees payable to banks pre-TSA.


” The nation is saving N24.7 billion monthly with the full TSA implementation, the elimination of ghost workers has saved the nation N120 billion, capital inflow reached $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2017, almost double the $908 million in the first quarter.


“While Nigeria’s stock market is one of the best-performing in the world, delivering returns in excess of 40 percent.


”Nigeria has also jumped 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world.


“The administration has repeatedly given bailouts for states to pay salary. “The administration’s Agricultural Revolution is a huge success, with agriculture export up year-on-year by 25%, rice import from Thailand dropping 644,000 metric tonnes to 22,000 metric tonnes and rice farmers growing from 5 million to 12.3 million.


” The Home-Grown School Feeding Programme has created jobs for 61,352 cooks, and it is providing 6.4 million school children in 33,981 schools across 20 states with one meal a day,” he said.


Mohammed also said that the N-Power programme has employed 200,000 graduates, power generation had reached an all-time high of over 7,000 megawatts and that infrastructural development was going on at a massive rate across the country.


He said a free press was indispensable to democracy, and assured that the Buhari administration would not do anything to stifle the press.

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