• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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MultiChoice challenges tribunal’s ruling on free DStv services, N150m fine

Wanted: Ministry of Multichoice and government palliatives for Nigeria

MultiChoice Nigeria is set to challenge a ruling by the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT) that mandated it to offer one-month free subscription services and imposed a N150 million fine.

On Friday, a three-member panel of the CCPT, led by Justice Thomas Okosu, ordered MultiChoice to provide Nigerians with one-month free DStv and GOtv subscriptions. Additionally, the Pay TV operator was fined N150 million for challenging the jurisdiction of a court sitting in Abuja, which restrained it from increasing its subscription prices.

In response, MultiChoice disclosed that it “disagrees with the ruling, and will therefore file an appeal against said ruling. As the matter is currently sub judice, we are restrained from making further comments.”

MultiChoice’s troubles began in April when a court barred it from implementing a price increase for its services pending the hearing and determination of a motion filed by Barrister Festus Onifade.

Onifade’s suit, marked CCPT/OP/2/2024, was brought against Multi-Choice Nigeria Ltd and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).

Read also: MultiChoice ordered to offer Nigerians one-month free DStv subscriptions by tribunal

The suit sought two orders: an interim injunction stopping MultiChoice from raising prices until the motion on notice was heard and determined and an order restraining the Pay-TV operator from taking any actions that could negatively affect the rights of the claimant and other consumers pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

In April, MultiChoice announced its third price hike in almost a year, which would have raised subscription prices by an average of 25 percent. The company attributed the latest increase to rising operational expenses in the country.

In response to Onifade’s suit, Multichoice’s lawyer, Moyosore Onibanjo (SAN), filed a preliminary objection urging the court to decline jurisdiction and strike out the suit, urging that such price dispute cases had previously been decided in MultiChoice’s favour.

Onibanjo contended that the power to regulate prices was vested in the president of Nigeria, the tribunal was not the appropriate venue for regulating prices and services.

However, the tribunal panel, chaired by Justice Okosu, held that Section 39(2) of the FCCPC Act grants the tribunal jurisdiction over all commercial activities aimed at making a profit within the federation.