MultiChoice Nigeria invested over N15 billion in the last seven years on local content programming

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MultiChoice, Nigeria’s foremost pay-TV provider, says it has invested over N15 billion in the last seven years to acquire locally produced programmes for its audience.

The South African company, which entered into Nigerian broadcasting sector in 1993, under a joint venture agreement, says the continuous purchase of locally produced programmes has improved the economic disposition and skills of local producers.

“A lot of programmes we commissioned initially have brought out the biggest producers in Nigeria, and acquisitions of local content have directly impacted the ability of the producers to make additional content in the local market,” John Ugbe, CEO, MultiChoice Nigeria, told members of Nigerian and South African Chamber of Commerce in Lagos last week.

Speaking at the Chamber’s month of March breakfast meeting, Ugbe, who has over 700 direct employees, said his organisation had paid over N7 billion in taxes to the economy and spent over $22 million on broadcast infrastructure. “We have bought some outside broadcasting (OB) vans worth million of naira to support the Nigerian Premier League. It is important we put the Nigerian football back on TV. We are delighted that the Nigerian league is coming back and we can see what the league is contributing to the national team,” he said.

MultiChoice has so far put in over N9 billion ($56m) in sports production to cover the Nigerian league for football, he said.

For the pay-TV provider, which also sponsors basketball, the 2013 AFCON was a huge success and that is the story of what a big investment can do. That is what visibility can bring. Ugbe, who is a solutions-oriented ICT expert, recognises challenges in running sports administration, and said that was why the organisation in partnership with a South African university and University of Nigeria, Nsukka developed a diploma programme in sports administration and what “we do is to sponsor officials from the Ministry of Sports to attend the programme to ensure we assist to develop management capacity, and so far about 30 people have graduated from the programme.”

He told his audience that the firm with massive investment in Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) Technology, with the launch of Gotv, which is currently in five states – Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Enugu and Edo, is a joint venture in Nigeria between Adewunmi Ogunsanya and MultiChoice Africa. “This is the concept the company believes a lot in its operations. We also believe in investing in local people in each of the countries we operate,” he said.

In Nigeria, the company started analogue bouquets of six channels 20 years ago, and from that to over 100 channels today, and it is expected to launch another channel called Fox Entertainment in April this year.

In 1996, Dstv, which is the digital satellite offering was launched with 24 channels in Nigeria and in 1999, MultiChoice was given the DTH licence. MultiChoice uses DTH Technology (direct to home technology) and has five bouquets that include premium of over 100 channels, compact Plus of over 70 channels and compact of over 60 channels, and family of over 50 channels.

In its early stage, it introduced big dish that was like a status symbol among Nigerians to have big dish, but because it foresaw the importance of digital TV in the country MultiChoice in collaboration with utel-SAT invested over $20 million to launch satellite over Nigeria, which enabled it to introduce smaller dish.

In 2010, it moved from the initial satellite that was launched to W-7 primarily because there is more capacity on W-7, and to reduce the incidence of rain challenges as this was one of the issues viewers always faced. Though losing signal during heavy rain is inherent with satellite technology, but moving to W-7 gave it more power to reduce those incidences, Ugbe said.