The National Communications Authority (NCA) is to revise the current authorisation for Pay TV service providers.
The move is to help address public agitations over a number of issues raised by consumers and to ensure that they are treated fairly and given value for their money.
The public, according to the NCA, had raised concerns over high subscription fees; arbitrary increment in subscription fees; poor customer support services; poor content quality and issues pertaining to billing.
“The NCA has received concerns from Subscribers of Pay TV services since 2015, regarding subscribers’ dissatisfaction on the services that are offered by Pay TV operators” it said, on a release posted on the authority’s website.
Accordingly, the NCA states: “In pursuance of its mandate under section 27 of the Electronic Communications Act, 2008, Act 775 and section 4.1 of the National Telecommunications Policy 2005 (NTP’05), the authority is inviting views and comments from authorised Pay TV service providers and the general public on the matter.”
It said the public consultation, which begun with immediate effect, would expire on January 18, 2017.
Meanwhile, the action of the authority comes on the heels of a reduction in the monthly subscription on DsTV by Multichoice Ghana.
With effect from the beginning of the month, Multichoice, the biggest pay-tv service provider in the country, dropped its rates and in its stead, offered more value with the introduction of exciting additional channels.
Although many have described the action by Multichoice as insignificant, others perceive it as a step towards bigger reductions.
The cedi puzzle
However, with the monopoly being enjoyed by the company presently, it is not clear how low it can further go in terms of rates, particularly when the cedi to dollar exchange rate is beginning to tilt upwards in favour of the dollar.
The cedi had kept its own for many months against the US dollar, a phenomenon which enabled many businesses to respond positively towards the trend. However, just when consumers were beginning to enjoy the fruits of the stable currency, the cedi is beginning to marginaly lose its strength.
For now, Multichoice will have to wait to see how the trend evolves to be able to take a decision on whether the local currency will remain stable or will continue to lose its strength against the dollar.
Tax on services
Meanwhile, it is necessary for the NCA to also take into consideration, the heap of taxes slapped on the Pay TV service provider, particularly Multichoice.
For instance, the six per cent Communications Service Tax (CST), which was imposed on the pay TV service provider, is being heavily contested because the players within that bracket do not fall technically under the CST but were roped in.
That, among other taxes on the company, per a thorough investigation is the reason for the high amount charged viewers.
Customer Care Guideline.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the NCA, as part of its regulatory measures, has put in place a Customer Care Guideline.
The purpose, the telecoms industry regulator noted, was to ensure that “all Pay TV service providers put in place adequate consumer protection measures in the provision of their services.”
“Following public agitation on the lack of adequate consumer protection measures, the NCA initiated steps to help address these challenges in ensuring that consumers were treated fairly and given value for their money,” the NCA said on its website