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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Multichoice Appeals Tribunal’s Free Subscription Order for DSTV, GOTV Subscribers in Nigeria

Multichoice Appeals Tribunal’s Free Subscription Order for DSTV, GOTV Subscribers in Nigeria

Multichoice Nigeria has appealed the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal’s ruling that imposed a N150 million fine and mandated a free monthly subscription for its DSTV and GOTV subscribers. This appeal follows Multichoice’s objection to the Tribunal’s jurisdiction and other reliefs.

Sources indicate that Multichoice has officially filed a notice of appeal against the Tribunal’s recent decision. Previously, Nairametrics reported that the Tribunal, led by Thomas Okosu, ordered Multichoice to provide a one-month free subscription to Nigerians for violating interim orders that restrained DSTV and GOTV price increases.

The Tribunal had initially prevented Multichoice from raising its subscription rates pending a motion on notice filed by Barrister Festus Onifade, who accused the company of unjustly increasing fees without proper notice to customers. Onifade sought interim orders against the price hikes.

The Tribunal, chaired by Saratu Shafii, ruled in favor of Onifade, restraining Multichoice from implementing the price increase scheduled for May 1, 2024. Multichoice’s lawyer, Moyosore J. Onibanjo (SAN), had filed a preliminary objection, arguing that the court should decline jurisdiction, as a similar case had previously been resolved in favor of Multichoice.

Onifade countered that his issue was about whether Multichoice provided adequate notice for the May 2024 price increase, not about regulating or increasing prices. The Tribunal, chaired by Justice Thomas Okosu, upheld that it had jurisdiction under Section 39(2) of the FCCPC Act, which covers all profit-driven commercial activities across the federation.

The Tribunal dismissed Multichoice’s preliminary objection, citing the illegality of the company’s 8-day notice to customers. Consequently, it imposed a N150 million penalty and mandated a one-month free subscription.

Multichoice’s legal team vowed to appeal, stating that the Tribunal’s ruling violated their right to a fair hearing. According to Multichoice, the Tribunal was expected to rule on jurisdiction but instead issued severe sanctions without hearing their side.

Multichoice had announced new price adjustments for DSTV and GOTV packages effective May 1, 2024, citing increased business operation costs. This change resulted in a 25% to 26% price hike across packages.

Despite the Tribunal’s ruling, Multichoice proceeded with the price increases. The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) stated it would review Multichoice’s reasons for the adjustments and might involve regulatory bodies like the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

Multichoice Group attributed an 18% decline in active DSTV subscribers in Nigeria to the country’s harsh economic conditions. A source close to Multichoice did not confirm if the company had readjusted its subscription rates.

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