Shaba, who spoke in Lagos yesterday, said the House appears confused and is indulging in legislative overreach, noting that there is no provision in the country’s laws that empowers the Federal Government to determine billing models for and prices charged by private operatives.
The content provider argued that pay television companies are private businesses and are free to determine their subscription models as well as charge tariffs that are reflective of the economic situation in which they operate.
He noted that pay television is no essential commodity, public utility or inalienable human right, but a service for which subscribers have to pay what is charged.
“The legislators are confused. That is what the resolution passed indicates. They’re just trying to look good in the eyes of Nigerians.
“Pay TV services are no essential commodity, social service or basic freedom. They attract charges decided by operators, who must have done the math, putting many things into consideration. Operators also decide the billing model, not the government,” he said.
He stated that House’s confusion can also be seen where it adduced reasons for pay television tariff increases to increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) rate from 5% to 7.5%, dwindling value of the naira, which naturally must have affected the cost of broadcast content and infrastructure, inflation and operations in general.
“The factors listed, naturally impact the whole chain. Content producers have always charged heavily when approached by broadcasters. Most of the content is bought in dollars, against which the naira’s performance is worse than poor. How can prices go down when operating costs are ballooning? It is also not reasonable to tell them what subscription model to adopt. As a matter of fact, pay TV companies around the world use the fixed subscription model. Pay-As-You-Go is technologically incompatible with pay TV operations, which is different from telecommunications that has a metering system. TV content is not metered, so you cannot pay only when you watch,” he said
The call to the Federal Government was sequel to Wednesday’s adoption of the recommendations of its Ad-Hoc Committee on Non-implementation of Pay-As-You-Go and Sudden Increment of Tariffs by Broadcast Digital Satellite Service Providers.
The ad-hoc committee, chaired by Hon Uyinme Idem (PDP, Akwa Ibom), started sitting last March. In its recommendations, it said the implementation of pay-as-you-go model will encourage “healthy competition” in the broadcast industry.