" ITREALMS: Pay $100, get DSTv for life

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pay $100, get DSTv for life

Features of the week:

The need to meet up with societal class has forced some Nigerians to device a means of receiving Digital Satellite Television (DSTv) offering, just for a $100, reports Remmy Nweke.

WITH the increasing cost of acquiring Digital Satellite Television (DSTv) services occasioned by the current feud over the exclusivity of some key channels in the Pay Television industry, some smart Nigerians have devised means of initiating people into the ‘elite club’ of those who enjoy Direct-To-Home (DTH) access by simply paying N14,000, approximated $100 for unlimited subscription.

From apprentice to DSTv techi

When he came to Lagos in late 1990s, on completion of his post-primary education, Ejim Onye, had no idea of what is Digital Satellite Television (DSTv) looks like, but after spending about six years on apprenticeship, he passed out with some technical knowledge of how to fix some brands of television sets among other electronics.

Top on this list is connecting interested people on to the DSTv with locally sourced apparatus, to begin receiving DSTv services at their homes without subscription, in fact, it is for life, for less than N14,000.

His modus oparandi

According to him, the formular is that the client must have a modern digital television set, pay the above amount from where he would buy Video Home System (VHS) video machine, a pole depending on residence, original cable and antenna and video machine, then you would have an option of choosing from 15 foreign channels.

He named some of these channels to include the popular, Cable News Network (CNN), Sky Sports/SkyNews and TV, EuroSports, Discovery, Channel O, MTV Base, Network, Movies 42, Dream TV, Home TV, Love AM among others.

Noteworthy here is that CNN for instance, has been on top of controversy list of exclusives to some DSTv service providers in the country.

Ejim Onye is not alone in this business, though he has a workshop where he sales fairly used electronic TV sets at the Olodi-Apapa axis of Lagos State, many in the business seem to be operating under cover in the areas like Ijesha, Agege, Lagos Island, Oshodi as well as Okokomiko.

These areas are dominated by low income earners who would like to belong to the high-class in the society left for their economic state, hence some of them have chosen to be patronizing these kinds of ‘unlicensed’ operators of DSTV whether wittingly or unwittingly.

Even as subscribers of legal Pay TV provider in places like Ajao Estate are turning to these technicians for what someone called ‘Life DSTv subscription’.

But what matters to most of the users accosted in the cause of investigating this story is that they have been neglected for a long time and simply want to belong and also know what is happening around the world, especially through the Cable News Network (CNN).

Direct-To-Home (DTH)

Satellite television is television service delivered by way of communications satellites, as compared to conventional terrestrial television and cable television. In many areas of the world satellite television services supplement older terrestrial signals, providing a wider range of channels and services, including subscription-only services.

DTH platforms as at January 2004 was recording broadcast of over 7200 channels with over 60 million subscribers globally, according to DTH World Summit on Satellite TV platforms and channels held in Paris.

670,000 out of the 7 million TV homes in South Africa were reported to be receiving DTV transmissions - MultiChoice’s DSTv direct-to-home satellite service, according to the ICASA as quoted in the ‘Digital Dilemmas for South African TV,’ co-authored by Messrs Chris Armstong and Richard Collins.

Three main forms of digital television according Messrs Armstrong and Collins exist, namely the satellite, wireless/cable and digital terrestrial television (DTT).

Whereas DTH could be said to be strictly based on satellite, the wired systems which sends digital TV content to users through phone lines, broadband Internet connections, or by the cables hitherto used to deliver analogue TV.

Most recent evolution in the DTV family is DTT, which entails sending digital signals wireless via terrestrial, an earth-based transmitter towers.

DTT is pronounced in markets where there is less extensive cable-TV infrastructure, mostly within the European Union (EU).

Mr. Dish, specialist in dish and digital offerings also said that MultiChoice has made great strides since pioneering the advent of digital satellite television in Africa, even as it’s DStv now consists of 108 local and international channels, 53 video; 48 audio and seven data brought to subscribers in the comfort of their homes 24 hours a day in South Africa.


Initially, history has it that satellite television signal was relayed from Europe to the Telstar satellite over North America in 1962 with the first geosynchronous communication satellite, Syncom 2 launched a year after.

The world’s first commercial communication satellite, called Early Bird, was launched into synchronous orbit on April 6, 1965 whereas the first national network of satellite television, called Orbita, created in Soviet Union in 1967, based on the principle of using the highly-elliptical Molniya satellite for re-broadcasting and delivering of TV signal to ground downlink stations.

The first domestic North American satellite to carry television was Canada’s geostationary Anik 1, which was launched in 1973 and by 1974, ATS-6, the world’s first experimental educational and Direct Broadcast Satellite, was launched. Two years later, the first Soviet geostationary satellite to carry Direct-To-Home television, called Ekran, was launched.

MultiChoice is the satellite for both South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa in this regard.

Low income precipitate patronage

Contacted, the immediate past marketing manager at Trumpet Internet Television (TiTv), a DSTv service provider, Mr. Will Ekanem, said that some of these connections break out intentionally by switching over intermittently to other stations with or without the owner applying the remote, which means, there is something, wrong, somewhere.

The wrangling in the industry is also giving this kind of grey market longevity, because if there is one voice, this could be handled collectively.

Although those patronizing such services, he said, are low income earners, he attributed the patronage in the first place to economic gap in the society, which is now forcing low income earners to show off as belonging to the high class of DSTv users.

Emphasising that if the income of an average wage earner increases in the country, the affected persons would definitely go for the real channels by subscription to the conventional DSTv providers of their choice.

Beyond quality programme

Reacting to this in a chat with correspondent recently, Public Relations Officer at MultiChoice Nigeria, Mr. Segun Fayose, said that what is most important to the consumers remain the choice and quality of the TV programmes they want to watch.

“This all-important content is, after all, the reason people watch television,” he declared, stressing that Pay TV has been rightly hailed as the ‘choice revolution’ but the multi-channel television industry was initially viewed with deep skepticism due to the lack of understanding around the value of ‘choice’ and the consumer’s appetite for it.

Explaining that there is much more involved in providing good quality content and a range of programmes to watch than just buying it from the many content producers, or rights owners, as they are known in the industry.

The idea of ‘roadside’ content providers like Onye, he said, does not work in the sense that it does not give the kind of quality of services consumers’ require, although it’s a reality that has come to live with us.

DSTv, a necessity

Public Relations Manager at Frontage Satellite Television (FSTv), Mr. Kola Johnson, told ITREALMS Online recently that DSTv is a necessity rather than a luxury as believed in certain quarters.

He also said that in economies like Nigeria where average citizen cannot afford three square meals a day let alone pay for television subscription, “PayTelevision operators’ owe it a duty to ensure that they make whatever sacrifice they could to uplift Nigerian society in access to information through reduction in subscription fee.”

At present

Presently, Pay Television operators in the country charge between N18,000 to N45,000 for installation and initial subscription after which consumers pay between N6,000 to N9,000 monthly, depending also on number of channels available to them.

The truth remains that as long as discordant tunes pervade, and coupled with the economic disparity, ‘roadside’ content providers like Onye, would continue to thrive, because people must dare the digital divide.

Before then, the nation needs to harness these smart brains to boost its technical know-how.

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