HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

Cable TV: Reps move to break monopoly, make pay-per-view compulsory

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 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 investigative hearings by the committee noted that the probe was based on protests by Nigerians against DSTV’s tariff hikes.

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 assured Nigerians 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 Nigerians 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.”

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