I have just packed into a new place.
The circumstances of my packing out of the old house and settling into a new abode should not detain us here.
The important point is that I discovered an abandoned HiTV decoder.
Who still remembers the HiTV of yore, the Nigerian version of satellite television that made South Africa’s DSTV see red?
An only palm fruit, according to Chinua Achebe in No Longer at Ease, must not get lost in the fire.
I cannot stop lamenting with plenteous tears the fate that befell Nigeria’s pay TV station, HiTV.
It is now going into the 10th season that HiTV lost the highly coveted English Premier League (EPL) broadcast rights in Nigeria to Multichoice/DSTV.
The South African monopoly known as DSTV took over the telecast of the much-coveted English league as from the 2010-2011 season.
With the loss of the telecast rights, the HiTV decoder became just another box because apart from the English Premiership and European football generally there’s nothing to crow about the pay TV wannabe.
The company has since gone into comatose.
Now I must perforce cough out nearly all of monthly pay to DSTV so that my household can be a part of the Nigerian addiction known as European football on the Premium Bouquet of the monopolists out of South Africa.
As I was meant to understand it back then, HiTV had initially secured the rights for the broadcast of the EPL for all of three seasons.
The harsh reality eventually manifested that HiTV had only paid $40 million for the content value of the first of the three seasons which it had won.
The lords of the EPL in due course demanded bank guarantees for the remaining two seasons, and HiTV was given a deadline which the company could not meet.
Of course, the rival DSTV moved very fast and beat our HiTV to the ball.
It was not the sweetest of news to Nigerian ears when DSTV began to make more noise than the Vuvuzela that it had re-acquired the Nigerian broadcast rights to the Premiership for the next three seasons.
It needs to be recalled that DSTV held the rights earlier until HiTV stole in from the back of beyond, to borrow a title of novelist Biyi Bandele.
A disgruntled DSTV had to make do with a paltry 20 per cent broadcast content of the EPL.
With the misfortune of HiTV, it came to pass that DSTV stole back the whole lot.
Adewunmi Ogunsanya, chairman of MultiChoice Nigeria, SuperSport’s parent company was indeed exultant when he made the announcement of the recapture back then thusly: “We are happy to welcome back the English Premier League onto the DSTV platform in Nigeria, to stand alongside the other exciting international soccer coverage we already provide to our subscribers here.”
With the English Premiership gone, the HiTV decoder literally went into oblivion.
It is akin to the Biblical saying that more would be given to the one who has while the little the other had would be taken from him.
DSTV today boasts of the telecast of all 380 Barclays Premier League matches. The company through the acquisition began to run a Premier League 24-hour, seven-days-a-week content service in high definition (HD).
Upon the launch of the unique deals, Nigeria became one of the very first countries to receive the 24-hour content service.
As things stand, the Barclays Premier League is the biggest continuous annual sporting event in the world.
The league is followed by more than 2.5 billion fans in the world. The matches are broadcast to more than 500 million homes.
South Africa’s DSTV’s gain is Nigeria’s HiTV’s loss.
All the praise songs that Nigerians used to sing for HiTV as a pacesetting Nigerian company were thus snatched from our lips with the very sharp coup plotted in South Africa through its Nigerian affiliate.
It is with a bemused look that I am now staring at a discarded HiTV decoder, and I am totally lost for words.
It is indeed true that you do not know what you have until you lose it.
Like sheep led to slaughter, Nigerian ball fans have in droves perforce returned to the erstwhile abandoned DSTV decoder which they had dumped when HiTV was all the rage.
Some fellow countrymen and women are still in seasons of mourning – for the dearly beloved HiTV decoder.
Agents of the Nigerian government are now full of talk about breaking the DSTV broadcasting monopoly. There was the previous hoax of the so-called TSTV.
There is a limit to patriotism and solidarity.
DSTV has won the toss; whether it has its parents or grandparents in faraway South Africa is neither here nor there, xenophobia or no.
A tear for the HiTV decoder…