For years, the Nigeria pay TV market was dominated by DSTV from the stable of Multichoice. Only few Nigerians could have access to the services of the pay TV because of its cost of acquisition and subscription, which were beyond the reach of many average Nigerians.
However, in recent time, the market witnessed a dramatic change, especially as the country gears up for the 2015 deadline for countries to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting.
The International Telecommunications Union set a date of June 17 2015 for the transition from analogue to digital television. The Nigerian Government set up an advisory committee to recommend to Government how to carry out the transition. The whole process culminated in the approval of the whitepaper by the Federal Executive Council on the 4th of April 2012.
The highlights of the Federal Executive Council briefing was the approval of NTA as the public signal distributor with the provision to license another two private signal distributors.
The Honourable Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, at the briefing said; “We would be licensing at least two signal distributors; one will be public signal distributor that will be comprised of the broadcasting access of NTA, FRCN and the VON. We also will be licensing another private signal distributor to provide the necessary competition that will give values to consumers of broadcasting content.”
The announcement by the Honourable Minister was cheery news to many indigenous stakeholders who are warming up to participate in the process especially as private signal distributors.
Many were hoping the process of selecting the private signal distributors will be transparent, and fair.
Curiously a few weeks after the Honourable Ministers’ announcement, GOTV started operation in Ibadan, Oyo State last year. It then launched in Port Harcourt, River State and then Lagos. While the launch of GOTV in Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Lagos may be good news for the subscribers who now have more choice and possibly better and cheaper services, Indigenous stakeholders have been bewildered by the turn of events as nobody seemed to be aware of when the bidding for the private signal distributor was carried out and how GOTV managed to be the winner.
Investigations revealed that GOTV do not have a license to provide digital terrestrial television services in Nigeria. Details Nigeria Limited, however posses a Digital Mobile TV license with which it deployed digital mobile TV (DSTV Mobile) in ten Nigerian cities since around 2007.
Speculations are rife in some quartres that DSTV Mobile might not have been successful as the owners would want.
Many stakeholders are questioning the legitimacy of GOTV operations in Nigeria but Government officials have not been forthcoming with a logical explanation for this turn of events.
“As far as we are aware, no DTT license has been granted Multichoice to deploy GOTV in Nigeria and when the time comes to award the one or two private signal distributor licenses, it is expected that all interested parties would be given a fair chance of getting it in a transparent process,” a stakeholder who craved for anonymity said.
The stakeholders are asking; Does GOTV possess a license to offer Digital Terrestrial Television Services in Nigeria? If yes, when did the process for selecting GOTV take place and why were all stakeholders not given a fair chance of competing? If GOTV do not possess a Digital Terrestrial Television license, why are they offering the service without any sanction by the regulator?
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Compass on Saturday gathered that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) may have commenced full-scale investigations on the operation of GOTV.
“We have sent someone to Lagos to investigate the matter,” a highly placed official at NBC told the Nigerian Compass on Saturday last Thursday.
Last Saturday, the Nigerian Compass published a story on whether GOTV from the stable of Details Nigeria, a sister company to Multichoice, has the licence to operate Digital Terrestrials Television (DTT) in the country.
Spokesperson for Multichoice, Segun Fayose, did not respond to enquiries even as at the time of filing in this report.