By David Chishimba
I know my elder brother Thomas Sipalo is very passionate about this campaign, but I think it’s very important to do some research before one starts or joins any campaign to ascertain whether the campaign is really necessary, genuine or achievable. Most people use emotions or assumptions when joining campaigns. They assume that the initiators have done their research or just feel that something needs to be done because it doesn’t seem right, this however, is an ingredient for wasting ones time.
The “DStv prices must fall” campaign is one which is marred with a lot of missinformation, ignorance and misconceptions. In this article, i will try as much as possible to clear the air as much as I can.
The Digital Satellite Television, commonly abbreviated to DStv, is a Sub-Saharan African direct broadcast satellite service owned by MultiChoice and based in Randburg, South Africa. Launched on 6 October 1995, the service provides multiple audio, radio and television channels and services to subscribers. DStv operates in Africa and Thailand.
1). Are We Paying More in Zambia Than Other Countries?
The following is the chart for African Countries and their DStv Premium Rates for 2021
Zambia – $45 ( Dollar to Kwacha at ZMW22.3)
1.DR Congo – $105 per month
2. Zimbabwe – $75 per month
3. Malawi – $74 per month
4. Kenya – $72 per month
5. Eritrea – $72 per month
6. Mauritius – $68 per month
7. Ethiopia – $67 per month
8. Uganda – $62 per month
9. Tanzania – $60 per month
10. Ghana – $60 per month
11. South Africa – $54 per month
12. Namibia – $54 per month
13. Eswatini – $54 per month
14. Nigeria – $46 per month
This chart shows that Zambia had one of the lowest rates in Africa. But this scenario started changing drastically when the Zambian Kwacha started gaining against the dollar. This year, as of 11th September, 2022 with the rate of the dollar to Kwacha at K15.5 and DStv subscription fee at K1,100 for premium package(Full bouquet) means we are paying $70.51 USD per year. This implies that we are now at number 6 on the chart of African countries with the highest subscription rates.
2). How does Multichoice Adjust Subscription fees?
Multichoice adjusts subscription prices annually. In the case of Zambia, the financial year starts On 1st April and price adjustments are usually announced in March. These price adjustments depend on prevailing economic conditions such as local currency exchange rate, inflation and fees paid by multichoice to other service providers.
3). Can Multichoice Adjust Prices Within a Fiscal Year?
Most likely not. Only in very unusual circumstances. For example in 2015, Multichoice adjusted prices upwards twice in April and in November because Kwacha lost value of about 61% against the dollar from K7.7 to K12.39, inflation rate rose from 7.2% to 14.3%. Meaning it’s possible but not likely.
This year, 2022, in April when new price adjustments were made, the dollar to kwacha exchange rate was at K17.9 and as of 11th September, the dollar to Kwacha exchange rate was K15.5 which shows 12.5% gain. Inflation in April was at 11.5% and at 9.8% as of 11th September.
I am of the view that this is not a very significant gain which can prompt Multichoice to adjust prices within a fiscal year because anything can still happen by the end of the year.
This month, Multichoice increased prices for stay packages. These are packages that you pay for when you are not usually found at an apartment for example if you own two apartments and only visit one during vacations. Most Zambians don’t even have this package. The rest of the packages remained the same.
4). Why can’t the government hear peoples cries and be involved?
First of all, Zambia has a free market economy and the government only fixes prices for agriculture products such as maize, wheat and cashew nut. Besides DStv is a luxury and not a necessity. DStv has also got different packages going for as low as K165 per month.
And government also owns 50% shares in Multichoice Zambia, so the odds are stuck against us.
5). What Then Can We Do?
In 2015 Multichoice suggested that they were considering implementing a quarterly review of prices for their packages, this was due to unstable economic conditions and this was to their benefit.
Now that the odds are in our favor, we can push Multichoice to implement a quarterly review of the prices so that we can benefit from the gains made by the gain in the local currency, inflation or other economic factors. But we should be fully aware that this change will be a double edged sword, should there be a loss, we shouldn’t cry foul as well.
We can also petition for a price freeze so that there is no adjustment in April, 2023.
Since we are all now aware that Multichoice only reviews it’s prices annually, the government cannot get involved and pay per view is not possible since all the other countries have got similar packages. We can do this little by little. We can start with fighting for a quarterly prices review. But remember that however we decide to fight, the petition cannot be fought on social media but by actually visiting Multichoice offices and formally filing a petition.