DSTV is under image crisis in Nigeria for too many times. Even in the green chambers they are being seen as defrauding Nigerians (see video below). Why do they repeatedly get named each time Nigerians - largely sympathetic to foreigners - get agitated with foreign businesses? What are they doing wrongly? How do they remedy things?

Who Owns DSTv?

South African company MultiChoice owns DStv - an acronym for Digital Satellite Television. MultiChoice, according to their website, have been in Nigeria since 1993. The website mentions a Nigerian Businessman and lawyer, Adewunmi Ogunsanya (SAN) as the Nigerian who singlehandedly brought them into Nigeria. What this means is that anytime DSTv has crisis in Nigeria, a Nigerian business is in crisis.

They started by employing 30 Nigerians but have grown to 1000 and indirectly providing jobs for other thousand Nigerians. Quoting them; "...for great local content, our business's economic impact runs to hundreds of billions of naira".

Why Nigerians Became Hostile To DSTv

In the ideal sense, an FDI should not be seen by the host community as foreign. When your business gets seen as native, you have little to no PR crisis at all. DSTv image crisis in Nigeria have had a lot to do with general perception of them as a South African business. And many factors have contributed to this.

1. Their content is heavily South African. A number of the free channels show South African content to their users everywhere. And the Nigerian experience is in distinct contrast with South African society.

2. The organisation also made no effort to brand the firm for the Nigerian society. Everything meets the eye as South African. In the average Nigerian's mind, DSTv and MultiChoice for that matter, is subconsciously a South African service.

'Although it is meeting our need tremendously, it is also taking our money overwhelmingly'. That is the commonest mindset in Nigeria.
Dstv crises in Nigeria

Are Nigerians Usually Hostile To Foreign businesses?

Nigerians are largely welcoming to foreign investment. Hence, FDI is not the problem in itself. The problems begin when Nigerians begin to perceive sleight or mistreatment. They will love your service if it meets their needs, but if they ever get the impression that you are treating them any less than someone else, there will be trouble.

This was the situation with Shell and the Ogoni community, Mobil with the Akwa Ibom host community of Ibeno. But not so with NLNG - where Shell holds a 25.6% share, NNPC holds 49%, Total holds 15% and Eni 10.4%. In fact NNPC does not receive the kind of communal backlash that Exxon Mobil and Shell receive.

Frequent, gruesome xenophobic attacks in South Africa has increased hostility against DSTv in Nigeria. Unfortunately, these South African companies in Nigeria do very well. Their businesses are thoroughly run and performing excellently Nigeria - though they are few. The economic and political environment encourages their success too. On the contrary, Nigerian businesses in South Africa complain bitterly of heightened political and environmental hostility.

Word goes back home about the sick imbalance and hostility is deepened. Explanation for such imbalance is a large topic of its own. It goes from a terrible economic posture by Nigerian leadership to the sheer size of migration away from home.

PR Solution They Need

Public Relations is known by its capacity to change Hostility to Sympathy. In this case, Nigerians would be running enmasse to defend DSTv each time there is imminent attack on their assets in Nigeria.

Is this happening? Can it happen? Yes it can. If not, how come Protea hotel - a popular South African brand itself - has never been vandalized during reprisal xenophobic attacks? It must be because they are not known for mistreating their Nigerian stakeholders - like MTN, PEP and DSTv are famous for doing.

A Look At DSTv PR Strategies

Sponsoring projects in Lagos and Abuja are far from sufficient. Hosting the Nigerian edition of the Big Brother show to stroke Nigerians' appetite for explicit content is not enough PR, if that's the intention. Most of DSTv's image laundering efforts are further down the inverted pyramid. What should be at the top is their corporate mentality towards Nigerians.

An example of a warped mindset is in their failure or refusal to adopt a friendly billing system. How is it that they offer Pay-as-you-use services in other African countries (according to the Lawmaker in the video), but in Nigeria they run a monthly fixed charge? Isn't it clear that the former benefits their users while the later favours their pockets?

According to a recent consumer petition against MultiChoice in Nigeria, 40% of the company's consumers in Africa are Nigerian. That is a mammoth crowd to earn from - easy to see why the greed.

What They Fail At 

If you are considered a visitor in Nigeria - or any other foreign land - ensure to treat the environment and natives right. Start with how you see them. Make it about their solution and not about your greed.

There is need to redesign DSTv's process of assessing the Nigerian market. Their entire Marketing Information System is faulty. This is me being modest. I chose not to accuse their directors for outright bigotry or exploitative tendencies towards the Nigerian market. Let's assume that they truly respect the Nigerian market but were poorly informed.

But if they do not get their acts together, a serious competition will emerge someday. If Nigerian entrepreneurs are too weak, another FDI will touch down and GOTv will not come to the rescue this time. If DSTv lose even half their Nigerian market, that would be 20% of their African users. Leave the cost of that for their directors to calculate.

DSTv should rejig their policy. Start at the centre of your corporate existence. It is clear that your philosophy is the 'product' one, not the 'marketing' one. Swap that. Make your business about Nigerians and you can kiss imminent woes goodbye before anything is ripe.

Uduak Umo writes this opinion from Jabborro PR, Uyo.

#PRSolution #DSTV #Nigeria