With the launch of latest Pay TV operator in Nigeria, TStv Africa, DStv, StarTimes and other existing service providers are unsettled by the immediate response of the Federal Government in granting a three-year tax relief to the newly inaugurated Pay TV operator in the country as well as tax-free dividends to all investors in the company.
The development has already triggered panic among old operators who have been competing for market shares in the face of harsh economic environment in the country.
Their fear is not unconnected to the belief that the new operator would before long break the strength of monopoly they have been riding on over the years.
A reliable source from one of the Pay TV service providers, who preferred anonymity, told INDEPENDENT that steps are being taken by the existing operators to request for a better deal from the Federal Government.
According to him, “You don’t expect those who have laboured hard in the country for people to enjoy this unique service to just be ignored like that. It will not be a fair deal if significant relief is given to a new entrant into the market without the same or better consideration extended to us who have the taken the industry’s heat over the years.”
On Sunday night, at a dinner to mark the official unveiling of TStv Africa in Abuja, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, announced the three-year tax relief for the new company.
During the official unveiling of the new company and its products which promises to operate on Pay-As-You-Consume model, the minister said the tax reliefs were in line with the pioneer status recently granted to the creative industry by the government.
He congratulated the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, Bright Echefu, and his team for liberalising and breaking the monopoly of Pay TV in the country.
The minister said: “The important thing about what Echefu has done today is that he has redefined the pay per view television industry; and from today, that industry will never remain the same again. What he has done is to democratise the media and entertainment industry and make it possible for even a peasant farmer to have access to the best entertainment and news in the world.
“It is a great opportunity for me to be the one to unveil TStv, because, just like a Nigerian made history by crashing the cost of telephony in Nigeria, I am glad that another Nigerian is now coming forward to crash the cost of Pay TV,” he said.
Wholly Nigerian-owned, the frenzy about the Pay TV has been spreading in the last few days before the official launch because of the anticipated refined offerings of novel unclassified Pay Per View subscription and complimentary internet services the operator is promising potential customers across the country.
With the commercial launch, industry watchers have posited that it would win over a lot of customers who have been itching for a pay-as-you-watch subscription plan from the likes of DStv, StarTimes, Consat and others in the past years without a positive response.
When INDEPENDENT contacted the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) spokesperson, Maimuna Jimada, if other Pay TV operators would be considered for the relief measure, she said the commission cannot comment on the development.
“It is the minister of information and culture that made the announcement. He is the one that can explain better,” she quipped.
Mohammed commended the courage of the investor for coming from the Diaspora to invest in his country and for believing in the government’s seriousness about diversifying the economy.
He said the company had also demonstrated that government alone could not do all things but needed the participation and synergy of the private sector.
“I want to assure that this administration will continue to assist you and other investors in creating the enabling environment for businesses to grow,” he added.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Bright Echefu, disclosed that TStv Africa, which had gone through a lot of challenges, was birth to liberalise Pay TV in the country, make it affordable to every Nigerian with added values.
Echefu said for the first time, Nigerians could now enjoy Pay Per View because with TStv, “subscription runs as you watch and it has the facility to pause your subscription when you travel”.
He said that TStv for a start has 70 premium channels model with the cheapest pay TV in Africa with maximum subscription fee of N3,000 only. The Pay TV has a model that accommodate subscription as low as N200 and N500 for a period of time.
Echefu said that once a customer subscribes to TStv, he or she will also get complimentary internet service, enabled Wi-Fi, as well as video calls and video conferencing services.
TStv has an array of amazing TV channels with premium entertainment, educative programmes that cut across all genres which include news, music, general entertainment, documentary, movies, religious, sports, health, kids, fashion and lifestyle that better define the uniqueness of Nigeria’s diverse culture and traditional values.
The minister has, however, identified contents and the lack of objective audience measurement as major challenges that had retarded the growth of TV and advertising industries in the country.