Posted by Samson Akintaro | 16 April 2019 | 1,184 times
For failing to roll out its decoder one and a half years after its launch, dealers who invested in the satellite pay-TV company, TStv, are demanding a refund of over N788 million invested in the business.
The money was paid for dealership right ahead of the official launch of the pay-TV in October 2017.
It was learnt over 58 intending major distributors, who are categorised by the pay-TV operator as ‘Super Dealer’, had paid N13.6 million each, which is an upfront payment for a minimum of 3,000 decoders. However, almost two years after the launch, the company has not released its decoders for sale.
In a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a copy of which was seen by our correspondent, the dealers said they are fed up with the company’s excuses over its failure to make the decoders available and would want their money refunded.
In the petition signed by 33 out of the 58 super dealer companies, the dealers noted that “since the payment to TStv, there had been one form of excuse or the other without any reasonable result. Because of the frustration in getting the TStv Telecom Satellite Ltd to comply with the obligation of supplying stock (decoders and accessories), some of us had written letters of request demanding part/full refund of our money to enable us service loans we obtained from banks, but nothing was given to us.”
The dealers disclosed that due to their persistence pressure, the company called for a Dealer Forum on September 1, 2018. They noted that at the forum, TStv Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Bright Echefu, announced a change in modalities of the business, which was initially supply of decoders and dishes that would only supply smart cards.
“TStv, from all indications, is looking to us as scam. Since they cannot commence sales, we are calling for our refund; unfortunately, our monies have remained unpaid despite several demands. Many dealers are going through hardship due to loans secured for this business, which we continue to service while the business we invested the loan in remains elusive,” the dealers said.
The birth of TStv, an indigenous Pay-TV, was greeted with high hopes and expectation by many Nigerians. It was expected to challenge existing players in the Pay-TV market with its promise of mouth-watering offers such as a 70 premium channels model with maximum subscription fee of N3,000 only, a VR (Personal Video Recorder) decoder, which will allow viewers greater control over their viewing experience with functions such as pause, rewind, forward, save and record of programme of interest. Also, subscribers of TStv were to get complimentary Internet service, enabled Wi-Fi, as well as video calls and video conferencing services.
As early as September 2017, in anticipation of the October 1 launch, 58 super dealers had emerged from across the country, having registered and paid the required N13.6 million, bringing the sum to N788.8 million.
These are, however, aside payments by second category of distributors dubbed ‘sub dealers’, who are to pay N4 million each.
While prospective customers and dealers were expecting to see the decoders in the market immediately after the launch in October, TStv said it would not be rolling out commercially until November 1, 2017. Gradually, the excitement began to wane, but Nigerians still kept faith with the company and eagerly waited for November 1. But by November 1, the company announced the commencement of test (free-to-air) transmission, which subscribers who already had universal decoders can pick and watch for free.
Explaining the reasons for its inability to roll out decoders recently, TStv’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Bright Echefu, in an open letter to Nigerians, said the company had been embroiled in different wars since its launch.
“From the date we announced TStv, it has been fight all the way. I doubt if a week passed without us quenching one fire or the other,” he said.
“We didn’t anticipate that there would be war. We were also not trained to fight in the arena we were pushed into. The kinds of weapons our enemies would later contend us with, showed they had stocked their armoury waiting for a time like now. We may not have their kind of money, neither their kinds of weapons, “connections” and networks, but one thing I sure know we had more than them was a determined spirit and a steadfast God,” he said.
The TStv CEO, however, remained silent on when the company would start selling its decoders; rather, he said prospective subscribers who have other decoders could continue to watch its channels free. (New Telegraph)
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