The Punch

Digital switchover: Freetv users lament poor customer service, channels removal

- TOBI Aworinde

SOME users of broadcasti­ng platform, Freetv, have expressed displeasur­e over the service, including inability to contact customer service, removal of choice channels, including some indigenous movie channels, and lack of childrenfo­cused channels.

Freetv, according to its website, covers the existing local, national, and selected internatio­nal free-to-air channels, “delivering Nigerian digital incentive channels with improved signal reception and picture quality directly to homes via set-top boxes (decoders).”

The Federal Government, in April, directed two pay TV platforms, Gotv and Startimes, to migrate their signals from self-carrying to any of the two licensed Freetv signal distributo­rs in line with the Digital Switchover process.

DSO is described as the process of transiting from analogue terrestria­l broadcasti­ng.

The Minister of Informatio­n and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who spoke at the launch of Freetv set-top boxes in Lagos on April 29, stated the device did not require monthly subscripti­ons, besides an annual access fee of N1,500.

“The set-top box will provide access to about 60 channels,” he said, adding that the government was hopeful analogue broadcasti­ng will be completely switched-off in the country by December 2022.

however, some of the users, in separate interviews with Saturday PUNCH, said they were dissatisfi­ed with their experience­s.

A user in Osun State, Philip Oladeji, said, “I bought mine at N4,000 three years ago. There is no dish or antenna, just a decoder. But I use a Startimes antenna with it. They should please add some kids’ channels and American to digital movie channels. There are just 25 channels.”

Similarly, Lagos-based user, Idris Ijetta, decried the lack of indigenous content, saying, “Their service is good. But they don’t have cultural programmes, like Yoruba, Igbo and hausa movie channels, as well as kids’ channels. They don’t have action movie channels and their channels are few. I would advise them to add NTA Yoruba, NTA hausa, NTA Igbo, NTA entertainm­ent, Orisun TV, and Ebonylife TV. But Core TV News is not working. So many people bought the decoder because of Play TV, but Play TV is nowhere to be found.

“They tell us they are coming back, but we haven’t heard anything till now. There were supposed to be 75 channels, but now there are 35. If there is no improvemen­t, I may have to move back to another affordable service.”

Oluyemi Ojedokun, who is based in Lagos, said, “I bought the decoder few days ago and after installati­on, l observed that it was not receiving channels as expected, despite the decoder being activated.

“however, l have returned the decoder to the seller. l hope the seller will check, reset or possibly change the decoder. I also need informatio­n about the workabilit­y of the decoder at my zone in Badagry.”

In the same vein, Ogun State resident, Oluwaseun Abiose, said, “I bought t about two years ago, and it still shows ‘no signal.’”

John Opayemi, in a terse message, said, “There is no sensible channel.”

When contacted, a Freetv representa­tive responded to an email enquiry by our correspond­ent, saying the message had been “directed to (the) relevant unit.” Further informatio­n was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.

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