By BEN SOWEIBO
Since its establishment over two decades ago, MultiChoice has maintained a clear vision of being the nation’s and Africa’s leading pay entertainment provider.
In keeping faith with its vision, MultiChoice Nigeria has contributed immensely to the development of the television industry in Nigeria. These contributions could be seen in the areas of technological innovation, training and manpower development, quality service innovation and corporate social responsibility.
In the early 90s when the company commenced operations (as common to new entrants) MultiChoice was confronted with a variety of socio-economic and technological challenges. It was for this reason that industry watchers and regulators were initially unconvinced of MultiChoice’s capacity to provide quality pay-television entertainment to Nigerian homes.
The pessimism expressed, especially by industry watchers, was not baseless. The country’s business environment was (and remains) a profoundly challenging one. With decrepit physical infrastructure, insecurity and inconsistent power supply, entrepreneurs have a mountain to climb in their bid keep their operations alive.
But despite this harsh terrain, MultiChoice was resolute in its commitment to provide world class entertainment and make local television content a global heritage through quality service.
However, MultiChoice’s battle to provide its subscribers with quality services on its DStv and GOtv platforms still comes with a number of challenges.
One of the major technological issues, which pundits have queried MultiChoice about, is the rain fade phenomenon. This occurrence is the loss of viewing signal in adverse weather conditions. For a fact, rain fade is a worldwide challenge with satellite pay-television operators making use of dishes for broadcast. MultiChoice has and continues to respond to the issue by moving from its W4 satellite positioning to a larger width band known as the W7 satellite.
With the W7 satellite band, MultiChoice was not only able to considerably reduce the frequency of rain fade occurrence, but also to add more channels on the DStv platform and also make the booting process faster. Since last December, MultiChoice has added over eight new channels on the DStv and GOtv platforms.
Aside the new channels, MultiChoice has also added over five local television programme content on the AfricaMagic channels. Some of these local programmes are Hotel Majestic, Highlight with IK, Taste of Love, Emerald, Calabash and the newly launched DoGood.
To make subscribers gain access to these quality content and channels, MultiChoice took the step of segmenting DStv’s bouquet plan to five options: Premium, Compact Plus, Compact, Family and Access bouquets. GOtv subscribers were not left out in the bouquet segmentation. For GOtv there are GOtv Plus and GOtv Value.
The icing on the cake is that no matter the bouquet a subscriber is on, the subscriber, considering his economic circumstance can always upgrade and downgrade. “With the unbundling of our bouquet, it is apparent that we want Nigerians to understand that the DStv and GOtv brand is meant for all Nigerians,” said Mr. John Ugbe, Managing Director, MultiChoice Nigeria.
Another major challenge for MultiChoice is the issue of signal piracy. With support from regulators, MultiChoice has been battling this challenge. Early this year, MultiChoice, in conjunction with the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), embarked on a phase out of legacy non-secure decoders’ exercise and introduced more secure decoders for the transmission of DStv signals. During the phase out exercise, DStv subscribers were asked to return all legacy decoders and swap them for new models at no extra cost.
Speaking on the issue of piracy, Mr. Ugbe, said: “The decision to introduce a more secure decoder is in strategic alignment with NCC’s regulatory and enforcement mandate to curb anti-piracy operations across Nigeria. Like the NCC, we believe that allowing piracy to thrive impacts negatively on the economic situation in the country, as it deprives many people in the value chain of their appropriate income”
It is a fact that MultiChoice is the first Nigerian company to establish a National Customer Call Centre to service DStv subscribers nationwide and ensure consistency in service delivery. Now, in an effort to reach out to more subscribers and reduce the rate of awaiting calls at the service centres, MultiChoice, which once had about 30 customer service representatives, has increased the number to over 200 in Lagos and Abuja.
With its policy of enriching lives, MultiChoice, as a true Nigerian company, in December 2006, commenced the Enterprise Development Project and followed up with the launch of the first Super Dealers franchise in June the following year. Currently, over 100 dealer franchises have been created in Nigeria to exclusively market DStv and GOtv. This initiative has created employment for over 1000 Nigerians.
Keying into the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), MultiChoice Nigeria has been at the forefront of promoting educational and health development in the country. The MultiChoice Resource Centre project, launched in Lagos and Abuja in 2004, has provided over 300 schools in 30 states with facilities for television-based teaching and learning resources. The MultiChoice Resource Center initiative is targeted at introducing television-based teaching and learning resources via the DStv digital satellite television platform.
In order to achieve this, MultiChoice equipped each of the beneficiary schools with a television set, video recorder and a DStv decoder, power generating set, tables and chairs as well as blank video cassettes. Beneficiary schools were also provided with access to the DStv education bouquet. The DStv bouquet provides access to the seven channels-ED channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic, National Geography Wild, History Channel, Discovery Channel and BBC World. These channels provide an opportunity for teachers to integrate appropriate television programmes into their curriculum. But there is still a lot more to do, a fact acknowledged by Ugbe. According to him, MultiChoice Nigeria still remains committed to enriching the lives of Nigerians through quality entertainment and making local television content a global heritage.
* Soweibo, a teacher, lives in Amasoma