THE Competition and Consumer Protection Commission says the pay television sector needs competition to allow fair pricing of services.
And the CCPC says consumers need to assess their consumption of services to respond to price hikes.
MultiChoice Africa’s subsidiary company, MultiChoice Zambia, has hiked subscription fees for Compact, Compact Plus and Premium bouquets to be priced at K330, K495 and K631 respectively effective April 1, 2015, with an additional K79 PVR access fee.
Zambian DStv subscribers have subsequently called for a boycott of the adjusted fees, describing the hike as unfair, especially in view of the lower comparative rates prevailing in the region.
Commenting on the development, CCPC public relations officer Hanford Chaaba said while regulating pricing is beyond the commission’s mandate, the upward adjustment showed that MultiChoice Zambia enjoys a monopoly and as such illustrates the need for more competitors to enter the local market.
“That development is because of competition. There is limited competition in the pay TV sub-sector and that is the reason why the dominant firm is able to behave in that manner. If there is a way of ensuring that more players come on board, I can assure you that this particular sub-sector can be very, very cheap and efficient,” he said in an interview.
Chaaba said while the commission could not confirm whether MultiChoice Zambia was playing fair according to standard competition rules, he reiterated that more players were needed on the market to keep a cap on prices.
“They also gave their side of the story and gave the aspect of the [US] dollar which is quite understood, so it is very difficult to confirm whether they are being fair or not. But when you have more players in an economic sector, the better, cheaper and more efficient players become,” he added.
And Chaaba said consumers need to consider scaling down their options to react favourably to the price increment.
“Consumers need to assess their consumption of services; they should scale down. And in a situation where it is possible, others can even opt for GoTV which is much cheaper. This is a service we need, but it is not a necessity,” said Chaaba.