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

MultiChoice Nigeria Increased Price Of GOtv, DStv

Multichoice Nigeria, a prominent Pay-TV operator, has appealed against the ruling of the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal, which imposed a N150 million fine and ordered a “free monthly subscription” for DSTV and GOTV subscribers. The appeal follows Multichoice’s preliminary objection challenging the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

The case centers around a complaint filed by Barrister Festus Onifade against Multichoice Nigeria Ltd and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC). Onifade accused Multichoice of unjustly increasing subscription fees without providing a one-month notice to customers, violating interim orders that restrained the company from implementing the price hike scheduled for May 1, 2024.

A three-member tribunal chaired by Saratu Shafii initially ruled in favor of Onifade, restraining Multichoice from proceeding with the price increase pending the determination of the motion on notice. Despite this, Multichoice proceeded with the price hike, leading to the tribunal imposing sanctions, including a N150 million fine and a one-month free subscription for DSTV and GOTV subscribers.

Multichoice’s lawyer, Moyosore J. Onibanjo (SAN), argued that the tribunal should decline jurisdiction as similar disputes had previously been decided in favor of Multichoice. However, the tribunal, led by Justice Thomas Okosu, dismissed the preliminary objection, stating that the issue was not the price hike itself but the insufficient notice given to customers.

Multichoice’s legal team has filed a notice of appeal against the tribunal’s decision. They argue that the tribunal’s actions breached their constitutionally guaranteed rights to a fair hearing. The appeal challenges the tribunal’s jurisdiction and the penalties imposed without adequate hearing.

Multichoice had announced new price adjustments for DSTV and GOTV packages on April 24, 2024, leading to a 25% to 26% increase across its packages. The company cited rising business operation costs as the reason for the price hike. Despite the tribunal’s interim orders, Multichoice proceeded with the price adjustments.

Multichoice contends that the tribunal’s ruling was issued without hearing their side of the case, constituting a breach of their right to a fair hearing. The company has vowed to pursue the appeal, seeking a reversal of the tribunal’s decision and relief from the imposed sanctions.

The matter has been adjourned to June 7, 2024, for further rulings on the jurisdictional challenge. Multichoice’s appeal process will continue as they seek to overturn the tribunal’s orders and fines.

The legal battle between Multichoice Nigeria and the FCCPC, spurred by Barrister Festus Onifade’s complaint, highlights significant issues regarding consumer protection and regulatory compliance. The outcome of the appeal will have substantial implications for Multichoice’s operations and its relationship with subscribers in Nigeria.

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