By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), has noted with concerns that MultiChoice, the parent company of DSTV, in its years of operation in Nigeria with individuals and corporate organisations, has favoured Southern owned TV companies, neglecting Northern owned TV and Radio organisations.
A letter addressed to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Communication, titled: “Biased policies against Hausa speaking in Nigeria by MultiChoice Nigeria (Owners of DSTV/GOTV)” and made available to New Nigerian in Kaduna on Tuesday by Balarabi Rufai, CNG National Coordinator, said, “The company’s practices are secretive, and patently bereft of transparency in terms of its channel on boarding policy.”
According to the letter, MultiChoice Nigeria’s bias, for not having an open and clear pathway for prospective Northern clients who want to hop onto its DSTV and GOTV platforms, stressing that it is injurious to business and negates the principle of fair play and level playing field that is associated with a regulated field such as pay TV and Radio broadcasting.
It added that MultiChoice Nigeria’s policy deliberately excludes private TV broadcast entities from the North, most of which broadcast news and current affairs, and infotainment, in Hausa and English, with a groundswell of viewers across diverse communities in Nigeria, the West African sub region and parts of the Middle East Africa (MEA) region.
The CNG observed that the Northern elite, who hitherto depended on the radio for news, current affairs and cultural content, is now progressively animated to television and the DSTV in particular, in addition to the social media.
The group explained that the Northern leaders and technocrats, including academics and thousands of other DSTV subscribers from the region, are thereby being railroaded into internalising and patronising news and current affairs channels on the DSTV that do not only insufficiently report the region but also pour out perspectives and contexts that misrepresent actual situations and do more damage to our feelings.
It said over the years, North-based stations have consistently done everything in their limited power of appeal to be accorded channels on the DSTV platform to no avail, pointing out that MultiChoice Nigeria apparently operates on the whims of a top management policy to eternally shut out TV stations of northern Nigerian origin.
It suggested the need for interrogation of the longer tenable MultiChoice Nigeria’s exclusionist policy against authentic news and current affairs content, particularly those in the Hausa language, which linguistic mass is in excess of 100 million across West Africa.
It noted that MultiChoice Nigeria must not limit their choices and stories on DSTV to TV drama only – notably through Africa Magic Hausa, and Arewa24.
CNG advised that MultiChoice Nigeria must be made to rethink its current and outdated business model to allow for fairness, transparency and inclusion, and not shutting its doors to Nigeria’s most widely spoken language, thereby denying a critical segment of our society their rights to contribute to nation building.
It observed that for MultiChoice Nigeria, and to all discerning minds, DSTV and GOTV can only increase in revenue and subscriber base if it is made to do the right thing.
It said that, “ln addition to this petition against the unfair and discriminatory policies and practices of MultiChoice Nigeria, unless we see quick action suggesting its readiness to embrace content diversity towards national growth and development, we shall not hesitate to organise and enforce a boycott of MultiChoice services in the North and by Northerners.”
The group said, “The CNG finds it curious that international news networks, from the BBC, VOA, RFI, Deutsche Welle, amongst several others in Asia and Europe, are accommodating and broadening their audience base through Hausa content, but MultiChoice which operations are regulated by Nigerian law, is acting out a most reprehensible script geared at fostering media space imbalance and oppression.”